Melbourne hit man Ray (Scott Ryan) is letting a neighbouring Italian film student, Max (Massimiliano Andrighetto), follow him around making a documentary about him and his work - making people disappear - to be released only on his death. Over the course of a couple of jobs, Ray and Max discuss several banal subjects, their domestic situations as well as his work, sometimes drawing in his targets, such as Tony (Ben Walker), a small time drug dealer who has been sniffing into the takings. Max even brokers a deal that sees Tony reveal the whereabouts of some loot in an attempt to save his skin.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The Magician is a festival favourite because it's different; it's a cheeky micro budget film which gets over all its budget limitations with the realisation of Ray's character, and its slight story convinces us that there really is more to it than we have seen. The hand held camera isn't a fetish here, it's necessity. The natural light and real locations are all straight out of a Dogma 95 undertaking, and the humour is a mix of Tarantino-esque banalities in the face of deadly crime and genuine Australian larrikinism.
The film owes its licence to all those elements, along with The Blair Witch Project, but there is still the unmistakable whiff of originality in the way the various elements are put together. Notable in the mix is Scott Ryan himself, whose characterisation of Ray is inspired and complete. Ray is never quite predictable; he is both soft and ruthless, and has the ability to kill in cold blood. The character's great saving grace is that we do not approve, but we understand him. This is where a lot of the film's humour comes from, as Ray behaves in perfect synch with his own view of life and his own set of moral guidelines. Yes, they exist, but are hard to pin down. Not him: we can pin him down as the rogue who hides his insecurities - even from himself. And he draws the line at the most surprising things. Hence his complexity, and hence the intrigue.
The film gets a tad tedious in the middle, when the ordinariness of the discussion weighs us down instead of entertaining us, but it's a short lived droop.
The Magician is not a standard item and can't be assessed on traditional cinematic terms; but it can be enjoyed on its own terms, and has great appeal for the open minded film enthusiast.
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SCOTT RYAN INTERVIEW
MAGICIAN, THE (MA)
CAST: Scott Ryan, Tony Rickards, Ben Walker, Massimiliano Andrighetto, Kane Mason, Nathaniel Lindsay
PRODUCER: Michele Bennett, Nash Edgerton, Scott Ryan
DIRECTOR: Scott Ryan
SCRIPT: Scott Ryan
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Massimiliano Andrighetto
EDITOR: Nash Edgerton, Kristine Rowe, Scott Ryan
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 29, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
VIDEO RELEASE: August 17, 2006