May 24th, 2007

Loz Purple

Romulus, My Father...

Tonight I went to see a screening of Australian film Romulus, My Father, directed by Richard Roxburgh - whom many of you would know as an actor from Moulin Rouge, Van Helsing, or the recent adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. This is his first feature film, and I have to say, for a first, it's quite outstanding.

The film is based on the memoir by Raimond Gaita and adapted by Nick Drake. It stars Eric Bana, Marton Csorkas, Franka Potente and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and was filmed in Victoria. The story revolves around Raimond's childhood, growing up in 1960s Australia as the child of European immigrants (his mother is German, his father Romanian.) It is about family, the father/son relationship, betrayal, adversity, but most of all, resilience and survival.

If you get the chance and you have a long attention span, I suggest seeing this. It's a slow-moving character driven narrative that is quite, quite beautiful, even as it is overwhelmingly tragic. The performances are fantastic. Eric Bana, who plays the eponymous hero, says a lot by saying little - a thousand words with a gaze. Kodi Smit-McPhee, who plays Raimond, is amazing. Even as the title dictates that the story is about Romulus, it is really Raimond's - and we are taken on this journey by a finely nuanced performance by a talented young actor.

The film is beautifully shot - the framing, the capturing of light, the locations - they add to the narrative and atmosphere. The camerawork is restrained, but perfect - telling the story with a simplicity that is contrasted by detailed settings. It feels like a uniquely Australian film, but the story is one that many people could relate to.

Richard Roxburgh and Nick Drake gave a Q&A session after the film. I wish I'd had the courage to ask a question, but the audience mostly did a good job of anticipating what I was most curious about. If you ever wanted to know, pre-production is hell, production is hell and post-production is hell. But I think I'm glad Richard went through hell to create such a moving and engaging film. It would not be for everyone, but I loved it.

Many thanks to liani_banks for inviting me along. You can find the trailer for the film here. Beware, it's one of those trailers that show a lot of what happens. Thankfully, I came into it not having looked up anything, nor having read Raimond's memoir - although I really want to now.