Film review: Somersault

When the sun has gone down and it's still in the mid-20s outside, there's only one place to go - an air condition movie theatre. To see a film set in the snow. Which leaves you feeling kind of cold. The film was a new Australian release "Somersault", which is currently doing the arthouse (or in true Australian spirit "outhouse") circuit, although it would no doubt be a mainstream release if it was "Fred and Kumar do a Somersault" or "This film has frontal nudity".

Somersault is a slow burn of a film, that takes a while to capture the audience's attention. Once it does, it takes the viewer on an long and bumpy ride through desperation and angst and mild depression, which is essentially a visit back to adolesence. The story centres on late-teen Heidi (played with subtly and skill by Abbie Cornish) who runs away from home and heads to the snow in Jindabyne seeking an adventure and her own inpromptu rite-of-passage. The film spends much of its time following Heidi through bars, jobs, ill-conceived plans, short-lived relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol and snow. Something for everyone.

One striking thing about the film is how course and unconversational most of the characters are. They are, perhaps, a slice of Australia in the country, although the short grunts which pass themselves off as converation is a little wearying. True, the portrayal is probably realistic, but then so is going to the toilet but thankfully director Cate Shortland steers clear of those moments.

The film is thoroughly enjoyable, well written, well performed and captures moments of teenaged angst well. It's a shame it will miss a mainstream Australian audience, although it has made a splash (insert lame diving/somersault pun here) on the international film festival circuit.

As an aside, check out Terry Lane's take on the film:

The more you think about it, the more you might conclude that Somersault just could be a masterpiece of metaphorical representation of good old Oz. It is a boring stinker of a film, but that's fair enough. It is about a character who is ready and willing to have sexual intercourse with any passing bloke, just to see where it leads. Sound like any country you know? Always the screwee, never the screwer.

If Heidi were a country you just know that globalisation would be something that is done to her, not something that she does.


Phu-Linh Tran said…
Good review but was slightly distracted by the spelling errors, as well as in the Democrats column. Glad to see you steered away from embarassing puns.

Anonymous said…
You say the movie is slow, takes a while to get your attention, has poor dialogue and leaves you feeling cold. Finally you compare it to going to the toilet. From this you conclude the film is thoroughly enjoyable?

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