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AMY

SYNOPSIS:
Eight year old Amy (Alana de Roma) canít hear or speak; sheís been like this for three years, since her rock star dad, Will, was electrocuted in front of her eyes in a horrific on-stage accident during a storm-drenched concert. Her mother Tanya (Rachel Griffiths) is hassled by well-meaning welfare officers, who nevertheless prompt her to disappear from her fatherís remote, country cottage, for the anonymity of the big city. Here, in a grotty inner city street peopled with an odd assortment of neighbours, Tanya and Amy try to find a new life. Every doctor and every specialist has declared Amy physically perfect, yet Amy remains silent. . . until one of the neighbours, guitar-playing songwriter Robert (Ben Mendelsohn) discovers that there is indeed a way to communicate with Amy. Eventually, Amyís terrible trauma is unearthed, thanks to the power of music.

ďHighly original and loaded to the brim with charm, Amy cleverly combines genres resulting in a delightful story punctuated by humour, drama and comedy. Above all, itís a story about communication - through music, violence, laughter and love. Tass and Parker make a great team, and the unity of thought, vision and image is evident. There are just a few holes in the plot, but itís easy to forgive and overlook them because of the filmís big heart. Parker has created an interesting mix of wonderfully absurd and eccentric characters, interwoven with very real and believable ones. Itís easy to engage with all of them. Itís a strong cast: Rachael Griffiths has never been better, while Ben Mendelsohn has great presence. But there are a lot of special mentions. Kerry Armstrong, Torquil Neilson and Frank Gallacher are terrific and I especially like Susie Porterís off-the-wall character - the hair obsessed, paranoid gal, who is out to kill the hairdresser. (Arenít we all?) Parker must have had a lot of fun thinking up that character. Jeremy Trigatti, a 16 year old student, is outstanding as Zac, the teen neighbour who is traumatised by the domestic violence between his parents. But the shining star is Alana De Roma, the eight year old with liquid chocolate eyes who sings like an angel and jolts the heartstrings. Amy is a story of friendship, love and discovery with moments of genuine cinema magic, that will make you laugh, shed a tear and enjoy a little escapism all at once.Ē
Louise Keller

ďA genuinely uplifting and memorable film, Amy has everything you could want from a movie experience; a script that is at once involving, moving and funny, outstanding performances, complex characters and great production values. As Louise says, there are a couple of little holes, but nothing damaging. The essence of the story relies on the psychological damage referred to clinically as post traumatic stress disorder, but the impact of the story relies on the quality of filmmaking Ė which is exemplary. Not only is the structure dramatically satisfying, revelations teased out for best effect, but the support characters and side-plots are all valuable additions to the mood and feel. Susie Porterís oddball sister to Mendelsohnís restrained, astutely judged Robert is a standout, as is Frank Gallacherís small but thoroughly enjoyable turn as a good doctor. I agree with Louise about young Jeremy Trigatti, too, a natural young actor whose fortune would be sealed with this outing if this were a Hollywood movie. (It still might beÖ.) Griffiths, while making her character a tad too unsympathetic for much of the film, shows her power here, and Alana de Roma is as exciting a find as Shirley Temple must have been (although her voice is more like a young Judy Garland). The flashbacks of the rock concert are stunning, the production design excellent and the music Ė including stuff that Mendelsohn gets to strum Ė first rate.Ē
Andrew L. Urban

ďAmy is a film about childhood, loss, music and motherhood, all packaged together in a variety of beautifully enveloped styles. This could have been a disaster, but writer David Parker has treaded very carefully, giving audiences a credible glimpse into an astonishing young character. As Amy begins to open her feelings, her world goes from darkness to light, from silence to music, and it all seems a natural progression. Amy, under the imaginative and assured direction of the remarkable Nadia Tass, is both emotive and funny, one that gives us a complete arc in this character's life, exposing audiences to some profound themes without hammering them. Here is a wise yet exhilarating journey into childhood, a detailed exploration of grief and music that all blends together perfectly. Tass, a true actor's director, adds breadth and scope to Parker's characters through her adeptness at casting and working well with her actors. Newcomer Alana De Roma is a revelation, a child with the maturity to convey the complexities of her pent-up emotional struggle to come to terms with her father's death. She also sings in the film, with the voice of an angel. It's a sublime piece of work. Not since Muriel's Wedding has Rachel Griffiths had so much to work with as she does here, and she is superb, conveying the angry, protective, soul-searching mother, with rich and detailed clarity. Ben Mendelsohn, too, is at his best as the caring musician. There's a scene-stealing performance by Susie Porter as Mendelsohn's kooky sister seeking revenge on her hairdresser. There is a mystical, fairy tale quality about Amy, yet it all seems very grounded and honest at the same time, a rare combination but one that works. Charming, funny, imaginative and deeply human, Amy is a shining gem of a film, an irresistible entertainment that deserves a wide audience.Ē
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

AMY (PG)
(Australia)

CAST: Rachel Griffiths, Ben Mendelsohn, Alana De Roma, Nick Barker, Kerry Armstrong, Jeremy Trigatti, William Zappa, Torquil Neilson, Sullivan Stapleton, Mary Ward, Susie Porter, Frank Gallacher, Jan Fridl, Malcolm Kennard

DIRECTOR: Nadia Tass

PRODUCER: Nadia Tass, David Parker

SCRIPT: David Parker

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Parker

EDITOR: Bill Murphy

MUSIC: Phillip Judd - composer (Music recorded at Dickhead Studios)

COSTUME DESIGNER: Christiana Plitzco

SOUND DESIGNER; Dean Gawen

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Dowding

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 27, 1998







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