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RISE

SYNOPSIS: Will McIntyre (Nathan Wilson), loses his freedom after a one night stand leads to a charge of rape. Despite his innocence, he is found guilty at trial, and sentenced to six years imprisonment. There, he makes two unlikely friends in Jimmy Cove (Martin Sacks), a hardened inmate, infamous for a string of armed robberies and Fung Poi (Marty Rhone) in for murder, who was severely bashed by fellow prisoners and is now wheelchair-bound. Will is given the task of nursing Fung and as a bond develops between the three, each has a meaningful and positive impact on the other. Meanwhile, barrister, Julie Nile QC (Erin Connor), is challenged to compromise her status and income to prove Jimmy's innocence. (Based on a true story)

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is enough emotional punch to carry this occasionally uneven film across the line, with a standout performance from Martin Sacks as a jailed heavy and a heart wrenching, wordless one from Marty Rhone as a convicted, wheelchair-bound murderer. Playing Will McIntyre, Nathan Wilson, a faint echo of a young Matt Damon in looks and performance, delivers a complex characterization of real life Mack Lindon, on whose story the film is based. And by whom the film is made.

The title comes from a card in the closing credits: 'It's not how many times you fall, but how many you rise' and serves as the film's inner theme. But the more important message it conveys is the value of forgiveness, and this is not restricted to Will's story.

The veracity of the prison environment helps propel the film's dramatic tension and creates the visceral grounds for our empathy with Will, who arrives as the vulnerable innocent, wrongly convicted, and walks out as the conquering survivor. In that sense the film is quite the hero's journey, although in a sense it is also a coming of age story. Woven together with the theme of forgiveness and redemption, it qualifies as a true story that's stranger than fiction. And more complex.

Mack began to write his story in his prison cell, eventually forming the idea to turn the experience into a film. "While in jail, I sent Rob Sitch a letter, explaining my innocence and that I wanted to turn my story into a film, but I didn't know how. He actually replied, outlining what I should do. I was yet to prove my innocence, but I knew I wanted share my story through film once I was freed."

After a retrial in 2011, Mack was able to clear his name and put his days in prison behind him and being encouraged by Rob's advice, was driven to pursue filmmaking, creating a storyboard and outline he would use to pitch to investors and actors.

Lindon completed his screenplay and after he was released, created a "pitch trailer", which won the 'Best Trailer' award at the Hollyshorts Film Festival in LA, 2013.

I have reservations about the casting and performances in the crucial courtroom scenes in the third act, but overall, it's a striking debut feature, made with more enthusiasm and passion than money. The total commitment of everyone involved on both sides of the camera, make for a compelling movie with a handful of standout, emotion-laden scenes, not least when Jimmy's mum visits him in jail, or when Fung farewells William ... or when, crucially, William writes to his accuser from jail.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's the law, not the truth that sets us free, says the lawyer who is the last hope for Will McIntyre (Nathan Wilson), wrongly convicted of rape. Mack Lindon has written and directed his first feature based on his own experiences. There is nothing more real than that. The film has parallels with the recent Son of a Gun (Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites), in that it concentrates on the experiences and relationships forged in jail. It's a bit like being there, swallowed up amid the politics, the jail grime and heavily tattooed prisoners who know the ropes and at times write the rule-book. While Lindon's screenplay is underdeveloped and the film does not always flow smoothly, its strength is its sense of integrity. We are there partaking the journey.

I am slightly puzzled by the film's first seven minutes, which is a montage of images that are intended to serve as an introduction to the film's protagonist (Wilson) - a young boy on the school bus, surfing, sausages on the barbie, drinks at the pub, dancing at the disco and ending up in an inebriated coupling with a pretty girl. The idea is better than the execution. A knock on the door, a police search and an arrest: 'your career is over; we know you did it,' Will is told.

Like Son of a Gun, the film's biggest flaw is the unfathomable bonding between Will (initially called 'Pretty Boy') and hardened crim and jailbird Jimmy (Martin Sacks), who rumour has it, ate a bloke's ear for breakfast. Wilson (think a young Matt Damon) is a likeable presence, while Sacks is excellent as the hard-as-nails crim who takes Will under his wing. 'You gotta take risks,' Jimmy tells Will through the wire fence, to which Will gives a detailed description of what it's like to ride an ocean wave on a surfboard. That's worth the risk,' he tells Jimmy.

We meet a mostly unlikeable lot, including Will's cell mate Butch (Jamie Joseph) who takes no time to lay down the house rules. Surprisingly, the most haunting character is the one created by singing icon Marty Rhone, almost unrecognisable as a mute, wheel-chair bound prisoner, whose care is entrusted to Will, a nurse in his pre-jail life. It's a brave performance that adds an unexpected layer of emotional chaos in this brash, chaotic world.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

RISE (M)
(Aust, 2014)

CAST: Nathan Wilson, Martin Sacks, Marty Rhone, Erin Connor, David Cuthbertson, Jessica Green, Stephanie May, Cameron Caulfield

PRODUCER: Mack Lindon

DIRECTOR: Mack Lindon

SCRIPT: Mack Lindon

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Geoff Mcleod

EDITOR: Jack Higgins, Daniel Warner

MUSIC: Jake R. Sanderson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rebecca Gardiner

OTHER: Shaun Thompson (Illustrations by), Damien Bredberg (Photography by)

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Pinnacle

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 6, 2014







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