Urban Cinefile
"Why have an eight-year-old play an eight-year-old when we can have an actor of Tom's calibre, with all his years of experience, interpret the part? "  -- director Robert Zemeckis on using Tom Hanks play the boy as well as the guard in The Polar Express.
 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

PLAYING FOR CHARLIE

SYNOPSIS:
Tony Hobbs (Jared Daperis), sixteen and fatherless, shoulders enormous responsibility for his baby brother Charlie (Charlotte Zerna) while his mother, Paula (Jodie Rimmer) works night shifts at a telemarketing call centre. Tony is given the chance of a lifetime when he is invited to try out for a State Schoolboys rugby team: a potential springboard for a lucrative career and a better life for his family. His mother suffers from Multiple Sclerosis along with deep-seated grief after the loss of her husband. Lurking at the edge of this outer Melbourne suburban family is Scarf (Mark Leonard Winter), Tony's recently discovered half brother. Scarf empathises with Tony's dilemma and lures him into committing a crime to get the money Tony needs to pursue his dream. Their decision could have tragic consequences for both Scarf and Tony.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Cinematographer Leilani Hannah has a great instinct for lighting and a great eye for images, able to give us mood and emotion as well as information, without being obvious or self indulgent. The sparse use of Lisa Gerrard's ethereal voice with her haunting phrases lifts the film's tone and the performances are excellent. It's a handsomely crafted and edited film (thanks to Ken Sallows) with a poignant story that touches us with its unsentimental but melancholy mood.

Jared Daperis is effective and engaging as young Tony, whose rugby career is jeopardised by the death of his father and illness of his mother. Jodie Rimmer is touching as his mother Paula, and Mark Leonard Winter makes a great impression as Scarf, the black sheep. Also effective is Shane Connor as Joe the supportive coach, and the minor supports all deliver.

These are all recognisable characters, their actions defining them; the mood is held steady throughout, and a couple of jarring story points aside, the film makes for a satisfying experience, handling a tricky subject.

Debuting feature director, expat New Zealander Pene Patrick seems reluctant to give the film a firm location, which takes away some of the context that provides physical and even in some ways cultural context for the action. Nor do we get a sense of place where the story takes place - not in a big picture sense or in relation to each location. But these flaws are overlooked in favour of the film's many pluses.
First published in the Sun Herald

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

PLAYING FOR CHARLIE (M)
(Aust, 2008)

CAST: Jared Daperis, Jodie Rimmer, Shane Connor, Mark Leonard Winter, Charlotte Zerna

PRODUCER: Pene Patrick, Franziska Wagenfeld

DIRECTOR: Pene Patrick

SCRIPT: Pene Patrick

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Leilani Hannah ACS

EDITOR: Ken Sallows ASE

MUSIC: Lisa Gerrard

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Julie Nelson

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: The Pack

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney & Melbourne: May 6, 2010







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017