Directed by: David Caesar
Written by:David Caesar
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Susie Porter, Andrew S. Gilbert, Belinda McClory, Tony Barry
Released: June 28, 2001
Grade: A-

Catching the attention of just about everybody, Eddie “Mullet” Maloney (Mendelsohn) has arrived back in the New South Wales coastal town of Coollawarra.  Three years ago, he got up, left town and was never heard from.  A promising football career went up in smoke and his long time girlfriend, Tully (Porter), was left devastated and searching for answers.

It took Tully time to regroup but found comfort in Mullet’s brother, Peter (Gilbert), the town’s local police officer.  They married but live a cold life together - Peter has trouble expressing himself emotionally leaving Tully constantly frustrated.  Mullet’s sudden appearance leaves them all stunned.  He intended to rekindle his relationship with Tully and is upset by Peter stomping on his ground.  Tully is shaken up and confronts Mullet with her rage but the strong love she has for him still exists and things start to get very complicated...

Tremendous dialogue from writer/director David Caesar breathes much life into the story and its characters.  As we are told during the introduction, not a lot happens in small communities but one’s business is everyone’s business and the most insignificant event can become folklore.  Whilst the story is ultimately a drama, there’s lots of sly humour emanating through the film and Mullet’s parents are perfect examples - they just act like normal people which makes them so funny - it’s as if they’re not acting.  Ben Mendelsohn is great and so is Susie Porter but Andrew S. Gilbert delivers the best performance with his quiet nature.

As if teasing us, Mullet’s story is told in fragments and it takes a while for the pieces to fit together.  It’s an effective technique in making us think about each character and wonder just what they’re thinking and what they intend to do.  Australian dramas have a predictable style but I still enjoy seeing a film (especially this time of year) that doesn’t have oodles of hype and millions of dollars worth of special effects.  It’s a touching story so just forget American blockbusters for a brief moment and take the time to see a film worth seeing.