MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, THE
Reg 'Fig' Figaro (Tony Hill) is a knockabout bikie who likes to share a beer with his mates and play pool, eight years and two kids into a relationship with Sheree (Jacqueline Cook). When Sheree puts the hard word on him about getting married, Fig goes along with it but makes a mistake about the wedding ring that undoes his best endeavours - even though he has agreed to the operation Sheree - prompted by her interfering, chain smoking mum (Nikki Fort) - proposed. Stumbling from one misadventure to the next, Fig, a piano tuner of some talent, gets a second chance, but he almost blows that too, at the hands of a lingerie model, a speed-checking cop and his friends.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's the genuine heart and quirky juxtapositions that make this dinky-dye, upside down romantic comedy as delightful as it is unexpected. The film's unlikely hero is a long-haired, tattooed bikie with a heart of gold, who just 'wants to get it right' when it comes to marrying the mother of his two kids. But the road to the altar is as full of sharp curves as the road Tony Hill's Fig negotiates in the opening scene. In his feature debut, writer director and cinematographer Chris Moon has constructed an endearing, upbeat, funny and original film that captures a particular slant on our Australian culture. It has that true blue feel about it, yet nothing is overdone with the humour coming from great characterisations instead of caricatures.
To begin with, would you expect a VB-drinking bikie to be a piano tuner who plays Beethoven's 5th with great sensitivity? Or have a name like Figaro that's painted on a sign next to the gum tree by his house? Romance is what women want, Fig is told by his buddies Heath (Michael Allen) and Elton (Elton Rosas) when he confides he is being pressured by his kids and girlfriend of 8 years Sheree (Jacqueline Cook) to take the plunge. Sheree doesn't care about the dress, the limo or the cake (all she cares about is 'you and me'), although once things start moving in the right direction, she is intent 'to go the full meringue'. Which reminds me, the dialogue is filled with wonderful such phrases, like ''as full as a fat chick's socks', 'got to hit the froggin' toad', 'flash as a rat with gold teeth' and 'getting' the snip'.
The proposal itself is a hoot and by necessity, Fig takes several cracks at it. There's nothing rough about the diamond ring this rough diamond gives his girl but how he acquires it, is another story again. I love the scene when Fig takes Sheree to the snobby, upmarket restaurant where the nose-in-the-air waiter brings bourbon and 'Mozelle for Mademoiselle' ('whatever's cold and open mate'). There's a twist on the Pretty Woman 'big mistake' shopping scene, too.
The charm of the film comes from the way Moon has grounded his characters and all the performances are excellent. First and foremost, we have to care about Figaro and Tony Hill (a real bikie in his first role) is a gem. Jacqueline Cook's Sheree is good too, while Nikki Fort, Sheree's brash and outspoken mum is a stand out. Subplots, like the wealthy Stefan (Alirio Zavarce)'s love problems and Sheree's ('little trollop') sister Melody (Rosie Denny) deliver their own unexpected magic. Music plays a vital role and Timothy Sexton finds a smart way to weave a cocktail of classical and jazz into the mix. At times almost farcical (the scene when the electrician checks out the lighting during a medical procedure is very funny), all the plot strands eventually come together in a smooth, satisfying conclusion. Getting hitched has never been like this before - don't miss your fair-dinkum chance to catch the bouquet.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Fresh, funny and endearing, The Marriage of Figaro has one other big thing going for it: it's unique. We see characters hardly glimpsed on Australian screens - a small group of happy bikies in Adelaide - in a set of situations familiar as part of the human condition, yet specific to these people. Chris Moon's writing and direction are seamlessly welded together in execution, and thankfully unjudgemental.
The story is assembled like a well planned jigsaw puzzle where the final picture is only complete with every little piece in place. And the film owes much of its energy and appeal to a marvellously diverse and yet apt sound track, which ranges from excerpts of Mozart's opera of the title to contemporary cues and nifty work from composer Timothy Sexton.
Tony Hill and Jacqueline Cook make a terrific and totally believable couple, each with strengths and weaknesses we can readily recognise. The naturalistic performances are kept in check as are the deliveries by a terrific ensemble cast, from Nikki Fort's wonderfully realised chain smoking mum to Fig's bikie friends and the key characters in a subplot that dovetails into the main story with entertaining ease, about another couple whose engagement is also undergoing reconstructive surgery in a big way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem of a romantic comedy that is left of field but which hits the bulls eye with its observant writing and slightly larger than life resolution. Warm hearted and without a mean bone in its filmic body, The Marriage of Figaro is entertainment in a major chord.
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PETA ASTBURY INTERVIEW
MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, THE (M)
CAST: Tony Hill, Jacqueline Cook, Nikki Fort, Michael Allen, Elton Rosas, Michaela Cantwell, Alirio Zavarce, Rosie Denny, Roger Newcombe
PRODUCER: Peta Astbury
DIRECTOR: Chris Moon
SCRIPT: Chris Moon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Chris Moon
EDITOR: Bob Lawrence
MUSIC: Timothy Sexton
PRODUCTION DESIGN: James Mellor
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Australian Film Syndicate (formerly Figaro Films/For Pete's Sake Productions)
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 17, 2009 (Adelaide); previews: September 11, 12, 13, 2009; Sydney: October 29, 2009
Director Chris Moon & Producer Peta Astbury