Dir/scr: Anna Reeves. Aust-UK. 2004. 91mins
Australian newcomer Anna Reeves does little to changethe image of her countrymen or local cliches with Oyster Farmer, servingup the typical Aussie quirky characters, black humour, beer and sex in equalmeasure.
It isn't the most attractive picture that writer-director Reeves paints of theisolated oyster farmers of New South Wales- but this hard-drinking,male-dominated world is still not far enough from the world of CrocodileDundee to really offer something new to audiences' generalised depiction ofAustralia.
WhileOyster Farmer, which is released next year in Australia, may proveentertaining enough during its short run, it seems unlikely it will travel thatmuch further afield as its fish-out-of-water formula has been used countlesstimes.'
JackFlange (O' Lachlan), a young man from Sydney, moves to the remote but beautifuloyster community in order to be near his sister (Harrison), who is recoveringfrom a car accident in a nearby hospital. He takes a job at an oyster farm, buthas no plans for staying on, having pulled off a robbery at the local fishmarket with that most unlikely of weapons - a lobster.
Unfortunatelythe package with the money, which he mails to himself, is first delayed andthen lost. Without prospects, he decides to get friendly with the locals,farmer Brownie (Field) and his constantly complaining father Mumbles (Norton),who spurts wise advice like "marriage is like pissing on an electric fence".Adding to the attraction of the place is the sexy Pearl (Glenn).
Thefilm doesn't try to build much tension around the who-took-the-money set-up.Instead, it wafts in the atmosphere and scenery of the place, which is indeedextraordinary but is hardly enough to form the basis for a feature length film.
Technicalcredits are solid and the performances lift the thin story out of the doldrums,not least Norton's moaning father. He also has the best bits of dialogue, fromthe sometimes witty script. But by the end of it all we no wiser about thesepeople than we are on oyster farming.
Prod co: Anthony Buckley Films Pty,Tempo Prods
Int'l sales: BeyondFilms
Aus dist: Dendy
Exec prods: RobertBevan, Mikael Borglund, Hilary Davis, Keith Hayley, Andrew Mackie, StephenMargolis, Cyril Megret, Richard Payten, Charlie Savill, Emile Sherman, JonathanShteinman
Prods: AnthonyBuckley, Piers Tempest
Ed: JamieTrevill, Peter Beston
Prod des: StevenJones-Evans
Main cast: AlexO'Lachlan, Jim Norton, Diana Glenn, David Field, Kerry Armstrong, ClaudiaHarrison