Wallace (Anthony Hopkins) is a time and motion expert called in by Ball's Moccasin Factory in suburban Melbourne, whose mild mannered and chaotic owner, Mr Ball (Alwyn Kurts) is concerned about business prospects. Wallace appoints hapless Carey (Ben Mendelsohn) as his assistant as he begins to implement reforms that upset all the workers. Meanwhile, Carey battles Ball's chief salesman, Kim (Russell Crowe), for the affections of the boss' daughter, Cheryl (Rebecca Rigg). Eventually, Wallace recommends sacking most of the workers and importing goods from Taiwan, but by now he has warmed to the workers and soon retracts his report, and Carey realizes that Cheryl may not be the right girl for him after all.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Although set in the 1960s, Spostwood's spiritual setting is really 'the good old days' when a benign factory boss would have his priorities in order: a friendly relationship with his basically lazy staff, concern for their welfare and happiness being paramount. Alwyn Kurts embodies this father figure with grace, but after years of running at a loss, Mr Ball feels the need to do something. Time and motion studies, a newfangled management idea, is a great way to defer decisions, and in comes Wallace (Anthony Hopkins). He steps into a world of inefficient laissez faire, which suits everyone down to the ground.
Wallace is an outsider (English to boot, as it were), a precise man with a clipboard who can plan complex business systems, but can't quite get a handle on his own life. Hopkins is a delight in this role, playing it straight but uptight, but nevertheless we warm to him eventually - especially when he lets the milk of human kindness spill all over his report and turns off his professional opinion in favour of his humanity.
Ben Mendelsohn shows all the early promise that later matured into serious acting talent, while Russell Crowe is neatly arrogant as the self centred salesman. Toni Collette has a lovely role and does it with minimalist excellence, and all the supports are great. I especially like Bruno Lawrence as Robert, Carey's father and factory supervisor. They also have the benefit of some endearing dialogue. (When a young lad complains of sore eyes, Robert applies eye drops. Wallace asks what's wrong with the lad, and Robert replies, "Allergic to sheep skin." Why does he work here, then, asks Wallace. "It's his future," replies Robert blankly.)
The eccentricities of the characters and the nostalgia emanating from the wonderfully evocative production design by Chris Kennedy all add up to a charming film of considerable entertainment value. It is a minor classic of Australian cinema.
Published August 16, 2007
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ANTHONY HOPKINS INTERVIEW
SPOTSWOOD: DVD (PG)
CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Ben Mendelsohn, Russell Crowe, Toni Collette, Alwyn Kurts, John Walton, Rebecca Rigg, Angela Punch McGregor, Daniel Wylie, John Flaus, Gary Adams, Jeff Truman, Toni Lamond
PRODUCER: Richard Brennan, Tim White
DIRECTOR: Mark Joffe
SCRIPT: Max Dann, Andrew Knight
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ellery Ryan
EDITOR: Nicholas Beauman
MUSIC: Ricky Fataar
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chris Kennedy
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 2.0;
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Force Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: August 15, 2007