MONKEY GRIP: DVD
Single mother Nora (Noni Hazlehurst), and her young daughter Gracie (Alice Garner), live among her artist friends in Melbourne, including young rock singer Angela (Chrissie Amphlett). She is drawn into a passionate affair with drug addicted Javo (Colin Friels), a struggling actor, who comes and goes - including a stint in an Asian jail. Nora is unsatisfied with the relationship and on his return, they hitchhike to Sydney for a break, but Javo's addiction causes stress and conflict. Back to Melbourne, but here, Javo is seeing his old flame, Lillian (Candy Raymond), which Nora finds hard to take.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In the context of Australia in the early 1980s, Monkey Grip as a mirror on one section of inner city Melbourne life is a refreshing reminder. The film is also an example of Australian filmmakers' exploration of more contemporary subjects, and of younger characters. Adapted from Helen Garner's novel, the film retains the narration of its central character, Nora (Noni Hazlehurst) - a device which lulls the filmmakers into allowing her to tell us things that they should really be showing us.
This is the film's central weakness, sapping it of the essentials of character: action. Hence Nora's motherly relationship with her daughter Gracie (Alice Garner, the author's daughter) is almost invisible. Likewise, Javo (Colin Friels) is merely described in terms of being volatile and untamed, but we only see glimpses of that characteristic. Audiences want to discover emotions for themselves, not be told about them, so the narrative device becomes a hindrance to the film's impact.
On the other hand, Noni Hazlehurst delivers a superb characterisation, for which she rightly won the AFI Best Actress Award, combining the free spirited Nora's fragility with her need for commitment, which of course Javo declines. Friels generates edgy energy - for the most part - and his cocky Australianness hides a vulnerable young man who we are able to glimpse below the surface.
Monkey Grip - a reference to the hold that Javo has on Nora's affections - is not as powerful as it might have been, but Hazlehurst especially makes it worthwhile; young Alice Garner is also terrific.
July 26, 2007
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MONKEY GRIP: DVD (M)
CAST: Noni Hazlehurst, Colin Friels, Alice Garner, Harold Hopkins, Candy Raymond, Michael Caton, Tim Burns, Christina Amphlett,
NARRATION: Noni Hazlehurst
PRODUCER: Patricia Lovell
DIRECTOR: Ken Cameron
SCRIPT: Ken Cameron, Helen Garner (novel by Garner)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Gribble
EDITOR: David Huggett
MUSIC: Bruce Smeaton
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Calrk Munro
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: 'Aqua Profonda' interview (2004) with Pat Lovell, Ken Cameron, Alice Garner (25 mins); audio interview (1979) with writer Helen Garner; video clip -All The Boys In Town; photo montage;
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
DVD RELEASE: June 23, 2004
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.