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The lives of three young men in their late teens and early twenties, all living desperate lives on the streets of Cabramatta, Sydney: Tommy (Jason McCormack) is a longtime heroin addict who's once again trying to reform himself and get a job, with the help of his friend Sara (Sarah Vongmany). Van (Joe Le) has spent time in jail and now lives in a high-rise carpark. And Des (Rodney Anderson) is a drifter with a pregnant girlfriend, who joins a gang in order to raise some much-needed money.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
At first disconcertingly like a raw doco, The Finished People manages to be a docu-drama without losing its dramatic edge. Perhaps that's due to the uncompromising approach of seeking the truth of the subject matter that Khoa Do took, extending to the screenplay created in collaboration with the actors - who are acting but also the real thing.

Almost the entire cast is drawn from the streets, experienced only in life, not performing. All the main cast frequent The Open Family Welfare Centre at Cabramatta. Hard on the heart, the film avoids judgement but still manages to condemn a society where our collective responsibility is shoved onto the social services of a Government. A good discussion on the film would canvass why one of the youths declares his hatred for John Howard is such he would seriously want to shoot him if he had the chance.

What Khoa Do's film shows us is the desperation of feeling that nobody cares; it's not just the Government's job to care. But the film is by no means a bleeding heart essay; far from it. It does make you consider what we are doing wrong - or rather, what many things we are not doing right - in providing for our youth. Their boredom and lack of self worth drives so many into self-destructive lives.

Made more by the rules of doco making (or unintentional Dogme, perhaps) the film's roughness is no drawback; but the music is. It is the only (distracting, sentimental) element that could be reconsidered to give the film the full impact it is capable of. The film's value as a social document is unquestionable; it should end up on television, not only to show that television is capable of truth and reality, but also to hold the mirror up to one set of 'Neighbours' otherwise ignored by the mainstream. Maybe that would help these guys feel less like they were finished.

There's a compelling set of materials on the DVD including a 50 minute documentary with interviews and workshop footage, tracing the project from idea to completion. This is the sort of raw 'making of' that gives other low budget filmmakers the encouragement they need to battle on. (And for non-pro actors, it's the lesson that the hardest thing to do is to avoid laughing during takes.) For the average viewer, it provides a window to a process that somehow drags the magic of film out of a reality that is far from magical.

The audio commentary from director/producer Khoa Do is intimate and insightful. Khoa Do explains early on that the themes of the film are poverty and the inability of under-educated people to express themselves. As for the look, he says he wanted it to seem as though a homeless youth had picked up a camera. Do is articulate, interesting and compelling.

A 5-minute montage of additional scenes, the trailer, and a set of superhero trading cards of the cast and crew complete the bonus materials.

Published September 2, 2004

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CAST: Rodney Anderson, Joe Le, Jason McGoldrick, Daniela Italiano, Sarah Vongmany, Shane MacDonald, Ivan Topic, Viet Dang, Miriam Marquez


SCRIPT: Khoa Do, Rodney Anderson, Myinh Dinh, Daniela Italiano, Joe Le, Shane McDonald, Jason McGoldrick, Sarah Vongmany

RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: "Beyond The Finished Line: The Making Of The Finished People"; Audio Commentary With Director/producer Khoa Do; Montage of unused scenes; The Finished People Trading Cards; Theatrical Trailer.


DVD RELEASE: August 11, 2004

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