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PAPERBACK HERO

SYNOPSIS:
Country truck driver Jack Willis (Hugh Jackman) has written a romance novel. Fearing ridicule from his mates, Jack uses a pen-name, that of his long-time friend Ruby Vale (Claudia Karvan), a local crop-dusting pilot and café owner (inherited both from her dad.) Trouble brews for Jack when he lands a book deal with a publisher who sends out a vivacious publicist to convince their new novelist to come to Sydney for the promotion of 'her' new book. Jack asks Ruby to take his place, as a favour. The publisher’s offer to pay for Ruby's wedding to local vet Hamish (Andrew Gilbert) convinces her that the favour is worthwhile. Jack realises that he can't permit the high-spirited Ruby to run amuck in Sydney in her new role as romance writer, so he decides to escort her as her manager. Their friendly relationship begins to take unexpected turns.

"Paperback Hero is a marvellous, fresh and endlessly entertaining film, starting with an original concept delivered through an intelligent (and refined over seven years) script. The film is devoid of the cliches that mar so many Hollywood attempts at this deceptively difficult genre. One of the key difficulties usually arise in the clunky handling of the third party in the love triangle: the girl’s nerdy/ugly/racist/evil – totally unbelievable - boyfriend to whom she is about to be married. Here, Bowman’s script and Andrew Gilbert’s satisfyingly rounded Hamish have created a lovable, wonderful character, as Australian as a cold beer in a dusty pub – yet entirely unique, without caricature or cliché. He is a lovely bloke, just wrong for Ruby – so when the inevitable happens, our emotions are truly engaged. As for Hugh Jackman, you may as well start misspelling his name: he will certainly be Huge. Karvan, who has never given a bad performance, gives her best here. And together, Jackman and Karvan are a screen match made in movie heaven; they take the script’s boisterous spirit and run with it to great effect – under Bowman’s assured, sensitive and well paced direction. He has mastered mood, tone and sensibilities to capture the complex nature of Australia’s laconic ethos through characters and values so convincingly as to give the film the impact of a Crocodile Dundee – but in the 90s. For all sorts of reasons, you owe it to yourself to see Paperback Hero."
Andrew L. Urban

"Fresh and original, there's a delicious playful feel about Paperback Hero, Antony Bowman's delightful romantic comedy that surprises with a twist or two. You can almost taste the dust in the remote locations, home to unique characters who are simple and honest, yet fascinating and entertaining. The script is sharp, sensitive and very funny. The concept and execution is authentically Australian – the characters, the humour, the casual ease and no-nonsense style found in much of Australia. The performances are wonderful; Hugh Jackman and Claudia Karvan are magic together. The charisma is explosive, the humour frivolous yet meaningful. The camera loves the seriously handsome Jackman – don't be surprised if he travels the Mel Gibson road. He has that unique, elusive thing: star quality. He carries his good looks like a rucksack and unselfconsciously inhabits every facet of his complex character. Karvan is stunning – cast against type, her feminine attributes are magnified by the tomboy nature of her character. Andrew Gilbert's gut-wrenching performance hits the bullseye; his subtlety and understatement will stay with you long after you've left the cinema. The entire cast is excellent, which includes the always compelling Jeanie Drynan. With a music score that soars like a crazed crop dusting plane, plus a sprinkling of infectious Roy Orbison tunes with glorious moody pieces. Watch out for the memorable karaoke scene – it rivals the one in My Best Friend's Wedding. The detail adds to the big picture - little things like a dog called Lance (the producer’s name) who likes Sinatra songs, and extraordinary, yet typical Aussie down-to-earth characters who would be caricatures if they weren't so real. Bright and funny, moving and heart-warming, Paperback Hero is a winner from start to finish – a film with a big, big heart."
Louise Keller

"Australian cinema's attitude to comedy has often been a mixed affair; sometimes we try and emulate the Americans while trying to be true to ourselves, other times we try to be true to ourselves but fall in the trap of becoming stereotypical. Paperback Hero is a film full of good intentions, an amiable romantic fantasy with a few nice moments. But that's all they are - moments. It's a film that looks pretty, contains a commercial soundtrack and pleasant performances. What it lacks is style, substance and a sense of energy. The trouble with this film is that it's a predictable and unoriginal affair, adopting a voice that lacks its own convictions. Full of weary characters in this opposites-attract-cum-fish-out-of-water story, it's a story that's been told with far greater success. Romantic comedy is dependant upon the chemistry of its leading players, and as competent as they are, this is a love story which lacks any spark to the point where it's impossible to believe in the relationship and therefore the audience will find it tough to root for its protagonists. The script lacks a clear focus, and Antony Bowman's direction simply lacks energy. The result is a nice but plodding affair, one that has a few moments of life, then, like the crop dusting pilot played rather sweetly by Claudia Karvan, comes crashing down. Writer/directors find it difficult to helm their material, and this is a case in point. Under the guidance of more creative hands, Paperback Hero could have been a lighter, more interesting piece. As it turns out, regrettably, it's unlikely to make the bestseller list any time soon."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

ONSET with Andrew Urban

HUGH JACKMAN INTERVIEW and ANTONY J. BOWMAN INTERVIEW
Interviews by Andrew L. Urban

BUY IT HERE

PAPERBACK HERO
(Aus)

CAST: Hugh Jackman, Claudia Karvan, Andrew Gilbert, Jeanie Drynen, Angie Milliken, Bruce Venables, Ritchie Singer, Barry Ruggles, Charlie Little, Barry Lee,

DIRECTOR: Antony Bowman

PRODUCER: Lance Reynolds, John Winter

SCRIPT: Antony Bowman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Burr

EDITOR: Veronika Jenet

MUSIC: Burkhard Dallwitz

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Dowding

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Polygram

INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTOR: Beyond Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: March 25, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: August 16, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal







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