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When art student Sam (Robert Mammone) suddenly left for the big city 18 months ago, he told no-one, not even his girlfriend Meg (Danielle Spencer), who was devastated. Meg finds comfort with Sam's best friend Johnny (Russell Crowe), and soon their friendship turns into romance. It is ANZAC day when Sam arrives back in town, intent on rekindling his relationship with Meg. He is hoping she will come back to the city with him but Meg is confused and unsure of her feelings. Meanwhile Johnny's world is falling apart and he gets drunk. When he arrives at the local dance and sees Meg with Sam, he doesn't know what to do, except slam his foot on the pedal and race towards the local railway crossing.

Review by Louise Keller:
From the very beginning of his auspicious career, Russell Crowe had that intangible quality that demanded recognition. In this, his leading role, 26 year old Crowe unleashes unbridled emotional energy, angst and pain as Johnny, a young man from a country town caught up in a love triangle. The fact that the object of Crowe's affection happens to be none other than his future wife Danielle Spencer (then 20), adds to the personal dynamics, and it may not escape trivia lovers that Spencer's character name of Meg, has relevance in Crowe's personal past (when Crowe 's co-star in Proof of Life, and subsequent love interest, was Meg Ryan).

But cast and their history aside, The Crossing is an involving and beautifully made drama. George Ogilvie's unhurried direction perfectly captures the mood of the country town, in which ANZAC day is being commemorated. The story, which takes place during one day, begins at dawn, when the silhouette of the townsfolk can be seen by the statue of the soldier for the service. There is a somewhat different relevance when Crowe's Johnny murmurs 'Lest we forget' to Meg as they make love for the first time in the nearby barn.

Set during the Vietnam War in 1965, we are taken back to a time of chenille bedspreads, one-armed bandit poker-machines, drag street car racing, pubs with plenty of beer and the local country dance. Shot in the NSW country towns of Junee and Condobolin, the film is quintessentially Australian in tone, inclusive of its local aboriginal community and jargon expressions like 'go on yer mongrel' and 'woman' used as a derogatory generic name a man calls his wife. Everyone knows everyone's business in this small town, and as Robert Mammone's Sam returns driving his black and orange spray painted car, the entire town interferes in some way.

The heart of film is an emotional tug of war between the three central characters; we become involved in their relationships not only with each other, but with their families. Spencer ably portrays Meg's innocence and confusion, while the good-looking Mammone is appealing as the country boy with city ambitions. But the film belongs to Crowe; the pain on his face in the scene when he arrives at the dance and sees Meg in Sam's arms, is unforgettable. The shocking climax comes all too unexpectedly, in a devastating sequence involving alcohol, speed and emotional vulnerability. Powerful and involving, The Crossing is a classic Australian film.

In the DVD's audio commentary director George Ogilvie and producer Al Clark give fascinating insights into the making of the film, including details of the era, the music selected and the casting. 'I think they enjoyed it,' Ogilvie recalls of Crowe and Spencer's screen kiss.

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(Aus 1990)

CAST: Russell Crowe, Robert Mammone, Danielle Spencer, Emily Lumbers, Rodney Bell, Ben Oxenbould, Myles Collins

PRODUCER: Sue Seeary

DIRECTOR: George Ogilvie

SCRIPT: Ranald Allan


EDITOR: Henry Dangar

MUSIC: Martin Armiger


RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 11, 1990


SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's commentary with George Ogilvie & Al Clark (Exec Prod), trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: April 10, 2007

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