Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday October 17, 2018 


Barry Wirth (Sam Worthington) has done eight years inside for a murder he claims he didn't commit during a robbery in which his major accomplice was the Aussie Gold Coast gangster Chicka Martin (Gary Sweet). He reckons it was crooked cop Arnie DeViers (David Field) who verballed him. Now he's out on parole and wanting to 'get square' and look after his younger brother. His best friend Johnny 'Spit' Spitieri (David Wenham) is still hooked on drugs but also trying to 'get square' and is a go between for Darren 'Dabba' Barrington (Timothy Spall) who offers Barry a job in his so far empty Gold Coast restaurant. The tough new Criminal Investigation Commission is after all of them, and Barry has to stay out of trouble - but still 'get square'.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you wanna know why the script rings with truth, look at the writer, Chris Nyst. It's his first screenplay, but he's a top criminal lawyer - that's not 'criminal', that's 'lawyer specialising in crime'. You may have read his first book, Cop This (1999) ....

So we're off to a good start, combining characters drawn from life and a couple of genres: the caper film, the sting film and the Aussie battler subgenre of David and Goliath. The result is not pulp, though, and Jonathan Teplitzky (Better Than Sex) has done a terrific job directing a terrific cast, bringing all the characters to life, which fills out a trifle twisted plot that needs our concentration, especially at the end. But it's worth it. And we know that from the credits and the rap song over them, followed by some ECUs that really take us inside the skins and heads of this bunch of crims.

This opening signals a fresh and spicy cinematic style from Teplitzky and first class work from cinematographer Garry Phillips. Teplitzky creates his own version of comedic crime drama that sidesteps the Tarantino school and works up a genuine Australian tone that is neither laboured nor restrained; that's clever.

The dialogue and the delivery are perfectly married for maximum results, like David Wenham's downbeat drug addict, which comes dangerously close to self-parody in one scene. And it's Wenham who provides most - but not all - the laugh out loud scenes, with Timothy Spall, Gary Sweet and David Field memorable in roles that are new to them all. Sam Worthington makes a strong and satisfying leading man with great presence.

Decency and a casual sexiness oozes out of him, and this role gives him the key to Hollywood, if he wants it. Machine Gun Fellatio's music (Teplitzky calls it 'greasy rock') rips through the soundtrack (Groove Armada of the UK also shines), and there is also a great Nick Cave track (Into My Arms). Ken Sallow's editing is beautifully pitched. In short, Gettin' Square is a creatively exciting and commercially entertaining film.

On DVD, special features include an audio commentary by director Jonathan Teplitzky and writer Chris Nyst; deleted scenes with commentary and a feature in which you learn the language of the crims.

Published April 8, 2004

Email this article


CAST: Sam Worthington, David Wenham, Timothy Spall, Gary Sweet, David Field, Freya Stafford, Luke Pegler, David Roberts, Richard Carter, John Brumpton, Joe Bugner, Ugly Dave Gray

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Teplitzky

SCRIPT: Chris Nyst

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen (1.85:1/16:9 Enhanced)

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Jonathan Teplitzky and writer Chris Nyst; Never-before-seen deleted scenes with director and writer commentary; learn the language of the crim; Popcorn Taxi Q&A session with the director and producers David Field and Martin Fabinyi; Cast and crew interviews; Poster and photo gallery

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: April 7, 2004

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018