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MALLBOY

SYNOPSIS:
Shaun (Kane McNay) is a 15 year old going through the turmoils of adolescence - and a chaotic home life with his mother Jenny (Nell Feeney) and sisters Tanya (Maxie Rickard) and Joanne (Sarah Naumoff). He hangs around the local shopping mall with other kids for want of anything better. With his dad Sam (Brett Swain) just out of jail, he hopes their relationship will improve - but he hopes in vain. His mother is finding it hard to cope and Shaun has to decide how to make the best of it for himself. He has one option, but it means a break from his mum.

"An engaging and moving film with well judged performances that don't scream at you, but gradually reveal character, Mallboy is a glimpse into what may be an almost typical suburban teenager's life. Almost, since Shaun's dad is just out of jail and perhaps that's a minority. But that aside, the sadly dysfunctional father-son relationship is all too common. So is the sense of waste and emptiness in Shaun’s life, the lack of direction – and the nihilism of his family environment. Hence the mother-son relationship is also under stress, and it's the way that 15 year old Shaun deals with the chaos of his life that drives Vincent Giarrusso's debut film, filled with dozens of spiky, well observed moments. Guided and advised by some fine fellow directors such as Ana Kokkinos, Rowan Woods and Fred Schepisi, Giarrusso has forged a minimalist but effective drama from what was originally a long poem with cinematic imagery triggered by his personal experiences as a youth worker. The film is is a brutal exploration of how a teenager can be devestated by a couple of shitty parents. Although the film is dramatic, it is neither manipulative nor melodramatic, and it empowers its central character without false or improbable resolutions. Mallboy is memorable and commendable: see it if you can."
Andrew L. Urban

"Capturing the very essence of a dysfunctional family, Mallboy is a poignant and heart-wrenching drama that engulfs us in issues of family and survival. The central characters are far from likeable – they are severely flawed, and display characteristics which are often repugnant. Yet writer/director Vincent Giarrusso has created a hugely engaging film that interests us in their plight, as we follow their journeys. Giarrusso tells the story simply and without bias – we are allowed to observe and be touched. Mallboy is about being lost both emotionally and physically, and it takes great strength for a young boy to climb out of his circumstance. The characters are tough and they're angry. Their life is a mess, full of lies, ugliness and cruelty, but at the core, the genuine humanity shines through. Mallboy raises questions about conscience. It might be easy to go with the flow, but at some point a decision needs to be made and responsibility taken for actions. This isn't always an easy film to watch – there are some scenes that I found quite upsetting. But it is far from depressing, and the journey realised is both believable and uplifting. The performances are all wonderful, especially Kane McNay as Shaun, while Nell Feeney's Jenny takes us through many emotions – not all of which are comfortable. Depicting pertinent issues of today, Mallboy resonates with truth as it gives an observant glimpse of a world that sadly may be relevant to many."
Louise Keller

"The only Australian feature film officially selected for screening at Cannes 2000 is this bleak, honest depiction of life in the suburban sprawl. The work of first time feature writer/director Vincent Giarrusso, Mallboy is a depressing journey into the reality behind the brick veneer of the Australian dream. Promises of the good life offered by quarter-acre blocks are expertly examined by Giarrusso, himself a former social worker, to reveal a hollowness when those promises exclude employment and family unity and are replaced by the despair of conflict and economic hardship. There's a light in Shaun's young eyes which slowly fades as this sombre tale unfolds and refuses to sweeten itself with false optimism until the flawed ending which runs against the grain of everything which has preceded it. That aside this is impressive on many levels, particularly the performances of Sea Change star Kane McNay (who deservedly won a special AFI Award for this) and Nell Feeney as his irresponsible yet very loving mother. This isn't a pretty film and its subject matter makes it a hard sell at the box-office but Giarrusso's film says things about contemporary Australian society which need to be voiced. He gets it right most of the time and his debut is a film not to be dismissed."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with
VINCENT GIARRUSSO

TRAILER

 

MALLBOY (MA)
(Australia)

CAST: Kane McNay, Nell Feeney, Brett Swain, Brett Tucker, Maxie Rickard, Sarah Naumoff, Lauren Hawker, Ryan Paine, Ronald Grima, Victoria Eagger, Sheryl Munks

DIRECTOR: Vincent Giarrusso

PRODUCER: Fiona Eagger

SCRIPT: Vincent Giarrusso

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brendan Lavelle

EDITOR: Mark Atkin

MUSIC: Vincent Giarrusso, Glenn Bennie

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brian Alexander

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: January 25, 2001

Festivals: Directors Fortnight, Cannes 2000.

VIDEO RELEASE: October 10, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

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