Urban Cinefile
"At one table you have got Clint Eastwood, another table you've got Brenda Vaccaro ..celebrities just everywhere - and the pizza is sensational"  -Jackie Collins on Hollywood's famous eatery, Spagos
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday, December 16, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

TEN EMPTY

SYNOPSIS:
A decade ago, following his mother's tragic death after a period of mental illness, Elliot Christie (Daniel Frederikson) left his suburban Adelaide home and went to Sydney. His father, Ross (Geoff Morrell), has married his mother's sister Diane (Lucy Bell) and his younger brother Brett (Tom Budge) has stopped talking, withdrawing to his room. The 29-year-old Elliot is coming back to be Godfather to his new half-brother, Diane's son. But the tensions between Elliot and his father, compounded by Brett's mental health crisis, turn the weekend into a powder keg of repressed guilt, conflict and fear of what's happening to Brett.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With the opening credits, we see a plane arriving and soon weíre in a small car with Elliot (Daniel Frederikson) and his step-mother Diane (Lucy Bell). They are half way from Adelaide airport to the suburban Christie home before Elliot turns to the bassinette on the back seat and notes the existence of Dianeís baby. If this is deliberate, it suggests that Elliot has so little regard for his stepmother and his half brother he hasnít seen fit to acknowledge the little gurgler until now. But it isnít directed to show that, so we are left to consider it an unintentional cinematic boo-boo. Itís not a good start.

The story unfolds in fits and starts as Elliot is first the butt of his fatherís ongoing enmity and later the potential saviour of the familyís dysfunction. For starters, Sydney seems to have knocked the beer drinking out of Elliot, who, after refusing several brands of beer including his fatherís own home brew, declares he mostly drinks red. Ross (Geoff Morrell) is so daft as to suggest one of the Red beers, forcing Elliot to explain. These early scenes establish the gulf dividing these two men, and the screenplay then moves to show the divide between all the characters in the house, from young disturbed brother Brett (Tom Budge) to Diane the undemanding, long-suffering second wife who puts up with the drinking and the bluster. All kinds of questions are raised by the arrangements, starting with why a baby now? And why ask Elliot to be Godfather if the relationship is in so poor shape?

The ten empty canvases stacked in the room around Brett are silent testament to a failed treatment for their mentally ill mother. They become signboards when Brett finally cracks.

But the real theme battling to get traction is the father/son relationship; this is set in such disturbed and damaging a household that the theme is not really relevant, except to this particular family. The story is filled out with incidental characters and relationships that seem to be there for colour and effect - like Blazey Bestís Bernadette, who has a quickie with Elliot shortly after his return, and Jack Thompsonís bar tending family friend, Bobby. But Bernadette is about the only interesting character in the film; we donít have to like the screen characters in a film like this, but they do need to hold our interest so we care about them Ö or at least about one of them.

Notwithstanding, the writers have a great ear for genuine dialogue and the entire cast responds with relish to the lines. Performances are great, but they are restrained by the writing. Consequently the film ends up more like a workshop for actors than a satisfying drama for audiences. I am not even sure who those audiences are ...

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

TEN EMPTY (MA)
(Aust, 2008)

CAST: Daniel Frederiksen, Geoff Morell, Lucy Bell, Tom Budge, Brendan Cowell, Blazey Best, Jack Thompson

PRODUCER: Naomi Wenck

DIRECTOR: Anthony Hayes

SCRIPT: Anthony Hayes, Brendan Cowell

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tristan Milani

EDITOR: Luke Doolan

MUSIC: Art of Fighting

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert Webb

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 3, 2008







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017