Directed by: Cate Shortland
Written by:Cate Shortland
Starring: Sam Worthington, Abbie Cornish, Sam Worthington, Erik Thomson, Hollie Andrew, Leah Purcell
Released: September 16, 2004
Grade: B+

It’s been well documented that 2004 has been a dismal year for cinema in Australia.  As a paid-up member of the Australian Film Institute, I have taken pride each year in selecting the 4 films I believe worthy of a nominee for best picture at the Institute’s annual awards.  This year, just 10 Australian films have been made (a record low) and some of these weren’t even given a release here in Brisbane.  That’s probably a good thing since those Aussie films that did make it into cinemas, were obliterated by the U.S. competition at the box-office.

Somersault isn’t our greatest film but it’d be the pick of the bunch this year.  It centres on Heidi (Cornish), a young girl from Canberra who is looking for love much too quickly.  After a fight with her mother, she jumps on a bus and heads to the quiet snow town of Jindabyne to meet up with a man who once left a business card with her.  As always, she has misinterpreted the situation and is left stranded in Jindabyne with no guy and no accommodation.

At a bar, she meets Joe (Worthington), a Jindabyne local who has a reputation as being somewhat of a ladies man.  The two strike up a conversation and end up spending the night in a cheap motel room.  From this point on, Somersault becomes a complicated romance that I applaud for its realism.  Heidi is a complicated girl and her character reminded me of Charlize Theron’s in Monster.  She is not an intelligent girl and continually makes poor decisions but you feel for her because of her innocence and inexperience.

The story has its lulls and drags towards the end but the highlights for me were the performances of newcomer Abbie Cornish and regular Sam Worthington.  It’s easy for an actor to play a more superior character but not quite as easy when playing a character with so many flaws.  Cornish has only a handful of screen credits to date but she steps up to the plate with a brave showing.  I see her as the leading contender to win the best actress prize at the Australian Film Institute’s awards in November.

Somersault is destined to perform poorly at the box-office.  Deep and meaningful Australian dramas don’t appeal to our audiences and their short attention spans.  It’s a shame but a fact that can’t be ignored.