Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Don't Married People Tell Each Other Everything?

Meh, another meh. Though it was my second Bruno Ganz film in a day, which is always exciting. I don't think I'd ever seen him in anything other than Der Untergang until I got around to watching Gillian Armstrong's 1992 Australian film The Last Days Of Chez Nous.

Vicki (Kerry Fox) returns from travelling to stay with her sister Beth (Lisa Harrow), her French husband JP (Ganz) and their daughter Annie (Miranda Otto.) They're all happy being back together again, though Vicki's 'free spirit' type attitude towards life starts to grate, though not on JP who finds himself falling for her. While Beth and her father (Bill Hunter) are out on a road trip so that Beth can confront him about why they never get along, Vicki and JP start to play, mirrored by Annie's first romantic blossomings with a lodger staying with the family.

It's very much a naturalistic film, doing away with melodrama and major dramatic plot points, climaxes or confrontations in favour of just showing it how it is. Maybe it's something to do with me and naturalism, then, after The Child. Maybe I just don't really like it in its natural form. Because I didn't find anything particularly interesting about Chez Nous. It just kind of muddled along and didn't seem to do a great deal. I didn't feel a great deal for the characters, with the possible exception of Beth, whom Harrow did a great job of adding nuance and texture to, and by the end I thought Vicki was pretty selfish. JP really gets away easily in the eyes of the viewer, playing the European card making you think it's not totally his fault, it's a matter of breeding, or some such tripe.

Helen Garner's script seemed a little bland, and then a little over the top in parts too, not fitting in with what she had already set down. The performances were actually fairly good, despite the fact that they didn't make me feel much. Fox went through fine, but it was Otto, Ganz and Harrow who sang for me. Hunter was Hunter - he always is, let's be honest. Geoffrey Simpson (who has done some terrific work - let's not talk about Glitter) lenses fine, keeping it real and natural like it's all meant to be. It's just a bit boring.

All in all, it felt like a bit of a nothing film again. Perhaps there's a feminist reading or something that I'm missing. But as it stands, it's 2 stars. Sorry Gillian.

(I also can't find a decent still of it. So it's not getting one.)

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