NOTHING MEN, THE
Six men have been waiting six months for their redundancy payout at a factory workshop, with nothing to do. But when Percy (Mark Fitzpatrick) rings to inform the foreman, Jack (Colin Friels) that a new man is being transferred just two weeks before the payments are due, the men grow apprehensive, suspicious that the company is sending a spy to try and find an excuse to fire them instead of paying them out. The new man, David (David Field) does indeed appear suspicious, with his neat white shirt and neat little briefcase, a stark contrast to the men's grubby working clothes and untidy surroundings. He is also suspiciously polite. As time ticks slowly by, devastating secrets and nasty surprises begin to seep out to threaten them all.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
An incisive and intriguing screenplay sucks us in from the start and begins to ratchet up the tension as half a dozen workers in a factory face an uncertain future. The story is not really about their employment status but their lives and their secrets. One of the film's themes is that we should never assume anything about anyone; no-one is simply who they seem to be, not even factory workers or factory bosses ...
Additionally, there are enough relevant elements and subtle commentary on contempo Australian life to fill a book.
Mark Fitzpatrick's debut feature is a striking and haunting work, twisting and morphing as it sweeps us along its unexpected trajectory. Stunning performances from Colin Friels and David Field are matched by an ensemble cast that is flawless in every scene. One of the best being their first meeting as Jack the foreman and David the strange interloper. The language throughout is coarse, coloured with working class jabs, orchestrated to pump up the tension.
Martin Dingle-Wall shines as Wesley, the man with a nightmare to torture his conscience, one that has dramatic relevance in the story. His façade gives nothing away, but his insides are gutted. He and David find common ground in chess, literature and even philosophy - making them both outsiders in the small, uninterested group. But their destinies are tied in a tragic way we discover only later.
Cinematography is excellent, making optimum use of the setting without resorting to showy tricks; Peter A. Holland knows when to move the camera - like circling the group during a tense exchange - and when to let the action take place in a still frame. Also effective is Robert John Sedky's sensitive, sparse and multi-coloured score, perfectly fitting and enhancing the film's sustained, edgy mood - right up until the apocalyptic climax, which will resonate for a long time.
Review by Louise Keller:
Relying on script and characterisations to propel the dramatic arc of its storyline, actor and first time writer/director Mark Fitzpatrick has written a tense screenplay whose reality shift is the driver. It's a powerful film with strong performances and plenty of merit as we are pushed beyond our comfort zone as the ugliest side of humanity reveals itself. Comfort zone aside however, there are moments where the premise pushes beyond the limits of credibility, which deters slightly from our experience. Nonetheless, there is plenty to recommend this gripping and often disturbing portrait of men treading water in nowhere land as they wait ... for fate to take an upper hand.
In the early scenes, Fitzpatrick firmly establishes the film's reality: an industrial workplace in which a representative group of workmen are sitting out their redundancy. Sitting around a table, they are drinking, gambling and passing the time by making crude fun of each other. 'Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing,' Colin Friels' tattooed foreman Jack jokes, as the conversation teeters beyond the limits of respectful relationships. Virility is a popular topic - hair loss, size of genitals being top of the list, while the long-haired, perpetual stoner (Andrew Windsor) smokes his weed. There's a tangible change of mood as David Field's polite, neatly dressed newcomer Dave joins the team and starts talking enthusiastically about his highly intelligent, soccer-playing son Gareth.
Thinking he is a snitch, ready to spy and dob them in to management to deprive them of their payouts, the men are on the alert. Why does Dave keep making private phone calls? Why is he allowed off the premises to go home for lunch? Then Dave invites the quietly spoken Wes (Martin Dingle Wall) home, after they bond over a chess board. That's when we are taken into Dave's reality and we learn his secret. But he is not the only one with a secret and the film begins its crescendo to an explosive climax after a joke goes too far. All the performances are solid and Field delivers a subtle reserve to the catalyst who jolts the nothing men to their destiny.
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VIDEO INTERVIEW by Andrew L. Urban at Dungog Film Festival (6 minutes 39 seconds)
MARK FITZPATRICK INTERVIEW (text)
NOTHING MEN, THE (MA)
CAST: Colin Friels, David Field, Martin Dingle-Wall, Brendan Clearkin, Michael Denkha, Simon van der Stap, Andrew Windsor, Sonja Tallis, Amelia Beau Kaldor, Lachlan Hannan, Dan O'Sullivan, Mark Fitzpatrick
PRODUCER: Andrew Windsor, Martin Dingle-Wall
DIRECTOR: Mark Fitzpatrick
SCRIPT: Mark Fitzpatrick
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter A. Holland
EDITOR: Adrian Rostirolla
MUSIC: Robert John Sedky
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marc Barold
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Anchor Bay
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 12, 2010