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JOE CINQUE'S CONSOLATION

SYNOPSIS: On October 26, 1997, Australian National University student Anu Singh (Maggie Naouri) killed her boyfriend, Joe Cinque (Jerome Meyer), by lacing his coffee with Rohypnol and injecting him with heroin at a dinner party where some of the guests had heard about the plan to murder Cinque. Despite this, none of them warned him. (Based on a true story.)

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I haven't (yet) read Helen Garner's award winning 2007 true crime book, but it is clearly a terrific true story, one that readily draws me to it, given my interest in the justice system. Even allowing for publisher's hype, the blurb description is irresistible: "Helen Garner followed the trials in the ACT Supreme Court. Compassionate but unflinching, this is a book about how and why Joe Cinque died. It probes the gap between ethics and the law; examines the helplessness of the courts in the face of what we think of as 'evil'; and explores conscience, culpability, and the battered ideal of duty of care."

What a pity Sotiris Dounoukos' debut feature doesn't do any of that. Instead, his adaptation centres on the rather unpleasant character of Anu Singh (Maggie Naouri), the girlfriend whose psychosomatic illness unbalances her and drives her to suicidal intent - and to take her boyfriend Joe (Jerome Meyer), with her. Anu is excessively unsympathetic, so much so that it is hard to believe anyone would stay on as her lover or her friend.

Joe is exceptionally undefined, not so much a character but a function of the story. It is only the excellent Sacha Joseph as Anu's friend Madhavi who grabs our interest with a subtle and deep characterization, a young woman dragged into a spiral of mistakes, paranoia and ultimately death.

Eliminating all the complexities that could make the film a gripping ride into a singular aspect the human psyche as well as a fascinating glimpse into the limitations of our justice system, Dounoukos has drained the film of its potential impact. There is none of those aspects here, and the result is a rather meaningless affair, directed with little flair and the editing allowing too many slack, empty moments.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

JOE CINQUE'S CONSOLATION (M)
(Aust, 2016)

CAST: Maggie Naouri, Jerome Meyer, Sacha Joseph, Josh McConville, Gia Carides, Jacob Collins-Levy, Laura Gordon, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Chris Broadbent

PRODUCER: Sotiris Dounoukos, Matt Reeder

DIRECTOR: Sotiris Dounoukos

SCRIPT: Sotiris Dounoukos, Matt Rubinstein (book by Helen Garner)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Simon Chapman

EDITOR: Angelos Angelidis, Martin Connor

MUSIC: Antonio Gambale

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marisa Martin

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Titan View

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 13, 2016







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