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TWO HANDS

SYNOPSIS:
Jimmy (Heath Ledger) is spruiking at a strip club in Sydney’s Kings Cross but hopes to move up in the underworld when the top dog in the area Pando (Bryan Brown) offers him a courier job, delivering $10,000. Jimmy’s attention to the task is distracted by the lovely Alex (Rose Byrne) and the money is stolen, leaving him in dire straits with Pando. Jimmy seeks help from his dead brother’s wife, Deidre (Susie Porter) to get him into a bank robbing job with her contacts so he can repay the money and get Pando’s thugs off his back. (His dead brother’s spirit also plays a small part in helping Jimmy. ) The heist goes horribly wrong, but is not entirely unsuccessful. When Jimmy finally sorts things out, he realises that Alex is more attractive than a life of crime.

"From the ripping, innovative opening credits (with superb title work from Peter Doyle at Dfilm) we know that Gregor Jordan means business: we are going to be entertained. Inventive and engaging, Two Hands is a gripping and often funny thriller with a deft touch of the supernatural cleverly and unobtrusively woven through it. The basically simple storyline is given extra resonance by the depth of characterisations, delivered by terrific performances from the entire cast. Ledger and Byrne are magic together, Brown is at his bad-boy best, David Field deserves a supporting role award and Susie Porter confirms her prowess in character creation. The two kids who play a small but vital role, Mariel McClorey & Evan Sheaves, will linger in your memory for a long time. As for Jordan, his storytelling skills are as refined as his direction of cast and camera. This is a textbook example of ‘it’s not what you do but how you do it that counts’. The light mood at the beginning of the film lulls us into a sense of relaxed interest, until a shocking, unexpected moment introduces gutsy, dramatic elements. The edginess and acutely observed characters propel Two Hands in a remarkable fusion of humour, action and drama, peopled with readily recognisable individuals. And it’s all thanks to a marvellous, economical script which crackles with energy. And obscenities; but even here, Jordan’s script puts the wrong words into the right mouths, turning the expletives into speech patterns as part of character. Two Hands is both creative filmmaking and commercial entertainment: it deserves to be a world wide hit."
Andrew L. Urban

"Dynamite from start to finish, Two Hands is a red hot, surefire winner from multi-talented writer/director Gregor Jordan. From the explosive opening credits through the twists and turns of the plot (the screenplay is superb), Jordan establishes the characters solidly and impressively. Visually compelling, there are delightful touches throughout – you never quite know what to expect. It's fresh, it's funny, it's black, and the performances are tops. Bryan Brown excels as the local crime boss, toying with the role with relish, exemplifying the film's observation that no-one is 100% bad, nor 100% good. Rising star Heath Ledger carries the load of the central character easily and with charm, while the very photogenic Rose Byrne impresses with a fascinating and compelling screen presence. The chemistry between Ledger and Byrne is magnetic and the two younger kids are also a standout. Much of the pleasure of this film comes from Jordan's skill making us anticipate what is going to happen next. Structure, editing and character development are a part of it, but the ease with which he switches from light to shade, bleak to humorous is constantly apparent. There's enjoyment in watching the story unwind, while the supernatural elements add additional dimension and complexity. Piercing the heart of Two Hands is a simple truth, a wry observation of human nature - being accountable for one single action that snowballs into an avalanche. An absolute delight from start to finish, Two Hands is satisfying entertainment – a charming, fresh, black and clever Australian film from a film maker going places in a hurry. Use your two hands and buy a ticket."
Louise Keller

"This may well be another outstanding year for Australian cinema, and Two Hands is skilful and engaging as anything likely to come out of Hollywood. Two Hands is a gangster film, but lo and behold, it's far from derivative. Rather than try and emulate an American genre, writer/director Gregor Jordan has imposed the genre into a uniquely Australian perspective. These are sly, Ocker gangsters, tough as hell, with family responsibilities, who play scrabble and chess with each other, or Origami with their kids. Here is a film that succeeds in mixing a deft concoction of styles, without losing sight of its narrative fluidity. It's a sharp black comedy, a farce (a robbery scene which is hilarious), a romance, a thriller and of course the classically structured gangster film. All of which are masterfully directed by this dazzling first-time feature director, who not only effortlessly displays skills here as a visually impressive movie director, but his detail of character is brilliant. Performances are all incomparable. Star-on-the rise Hearth Ledger is both attractive and charming, the perfect matinee combination, as the naďve would-be crim and spruiker, Jimmy. He is also a deft dramatic actor with a charismatic screen presence not seen in the Australian cinema since Russell Crowe. As for Bryan Brown, his penchant for wry, understated comedy is evident here, playing the uncompromising, scrabble-playing gangster with immeasurable skill. This is Brown's most astonishing performance since Breaker Morant, naturalistic but witty and clever. The film also introduces us to Rose Byrne as amateur photographer Alex who falls for the hapless Jimmy. Though her role is a tad underwritten, Byrne makes the best of it and shows herself to be a radiant and gifted actress. Two Hands is full of those little moments that make a film, moments that shine and resonate. There's a delightful scene featuring a get together of would-be bank robbers that is deliciously laconic, balanced against a powerful subplot featuring two homeless kids. Two Hands is simply a wonderfully entertaining and refreshing work, one that is exciting and a lot of fun all at once. It's bound to be one of the most talked about Aussie films of the year."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with
GREGOR JORDAN

and HEATH LEDGER


Actor BRYAN BROWN, star of Gregor Jordan's new film Two Hands, was Big Pond Movies' special guest at 6pm, Thursday August 12. Andrew L. Urban hosted the live interview; this is how it went. (Pic: Marco del Grande)

TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

TWO HANDS(M)15+
(Australia)

CAST: Heath Ledger, Rose Byrne, Bryan Brown, David Field, Susie Porter, Tom Long, Tony Forrow, Mariel McClorey, Evan Sheaves, Steven Vidler

DIRECTOR: Gregor Jordan

PRODUCER: Marian MacGowan

SCRIPT: Gregor Jordan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Malcolm McCulloch

EDITOR: Lee Smith

ORIGINAL MUSIC: Cezary Skubiszewski

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Steven Jones-Evans

VISUAL EFFECTS: Dfilm Imaging

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: REP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 29, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: November 17, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Becker

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CD SOUNDTRACK
TWO HANDS

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
RRP: $29.95
Featuring These Days by Powderfinger
FESTIVAL RECORDS

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