FINAL WINTER, THE: DVD
In the early 80s, as rugby league is changing, Newtown star player Grub Henderson (Matt Nable) is desperate to hang on to the game of old, without the corporate hangers on, immersed in the code of loyalty. His bruising style, however, is being challenged, and when a bitter, long fought feud with his brother Trent (Nathaniel Dean) erupts on the field, Grub's career is in jeopardy. Club CEO Murray Colgate (John Jarratt), represents the new business face of the game, for whom Grub has no respect, And vice versa. But Grub is also losing the support of his wife, Emma (Raelee Hill), who demands he make a choice.
Review by Louise Keller:
A story about passion, loyalty and mateship, The Final Winter takes a critical week in the life of a rugby league footballer when his professional and personal demons come to a head. The character of Grub (potently played by the film's writer Matthew Nable) is fictitious, but the era of 80s rugby league is not, when the game began its shift to commercialism and corporate sponsorships. It's an impressive writing and acting debut for Nable, whose vision is ably realised by first time directors Brian Andrews and Jane Forrest. Appealing primarily to those who love rugby league, the film tells of the pressures and conflicts on and off the field.
The opening sequence takes us into the locker room and onto the field where we get a sense of the camaraderie and the importance placed on winning ('Every game you play counts'). There's plenty of heat out there, and I am not referring to the weather. Personal vendettas and resentments become punches, and Grub's ugly, unsportsman-like behaviour towards his brother Trent (Nathaniel Dean) is at first incomprehensible.
Grub's emotional journey sits at the heart of the film, and Nable delivers. Dean is impressive as Grub's younger brother who 'likes life to be simple' and I especially liked Raelee Hill as Grub's long suffering wife Emma, who desperately wants him to revert to the man with whom she fell in love. Former Queensland captain Matthew Johns does a reasonable job as the coach intent to feather his own nest, but John Jarratt overplays his smarmy corporate chief.
The film captures an authentic, tangible mood of Aussie life, footy fever and the pressures of the game. The final resolution that neatly ties up all the loose ends feels a tad contrived, but does not detract.
Published February 14, 2008
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FINAL WINTER, THE: DVD (M)
CAST: Matt Nable, Matthew Johns, John Jarratt, Nathaniel Dean, Raelee Hill, Kate Mulvaney
PRODUCER: Anthony Coffey, Michelle Russell
DIRECTOR: Jane Forrest, Brian Andrews
SCRIPT: Matt Nable
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ian Jones ACS
EDITOR: Matthew Villa
MUSIC: Adam Gock, Dinesh Wicks
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Murray Picknett
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures Australia
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 6, 2007
SPECIAL FEATURES: Goof reel; interviews with the cast
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
DVD RELEASE: February 14, 2008