Andrew L. Urban goes on location in Melbourne to interview Stavros Efthymiou about the making of True Love and Chaos, an unusual road movie that blends humour and tragedy.
On the set of True Love and Chaos, Stavros Efthymiou talked
about his ambition for the film: "I want to capture a mood
somewhere between happiness and melancholy," he said,
admitting that British urban dramas had a big influence on him,
especially during the time he grew up in London prior to
migrating to Melbourne.
"I want to capture a
mood somewhere between happiness and melancholy," Stavros Efthymiou
True Love and Chaos, he says, is a road movie: young lovers
Mimi (Miranda Otto) and Hanif (Naveen Andrews), a charismatic
young Anglo-Indian, set off across the Australian continent from
Melbourne towards Perth, led by Mimi’s wish to reunite with
her mother, and unknown to her, for Hanif and his mate Dean (Noah
Taylor) to escape from Dean’s brother, Jerry (Ben
Mendelsohn) an off-balance dope dealer from whom they have stolen
"They are not what we
think; people tend to jump to conclusions and they are often
"But it's really about characters who have ordinary wants
and needs, and the world's got in the way," says Efthymiou.
He wants to surprise the audience that the first impressions of
the characters is wrong or at least incomplete, as they are fully
revealed. "They are not what we think; people tend to jump
to conclusions and they are often wrong."
Others in the high calibre ensemble cast include Noah Taylor,
Ben Mendelsohn, Genevieve Picot and Kimberley Davies. Weaving
also starred in Efthymiou' award winning short, Road to Alice.
This debut feature, produced by Ann Darrouzet, is handled
internationally by Beyond Films, who took to the script's
"intelligent and contemporary" mood, according to
Beyond's Melbourne manager, Kim Dalton. The film has an
individuality, a mood that signals a fresh, yet complex style.
interested in humour that's not driven by funny lines but by
"It's fast moving, with lots of humour," says
Efthymiou. "I'm particularly interested in humour that's not
driven by funny lines but by the situation. The ideas came from a
lot of different directions in a blur, then started to
crystallise. There were things I was interested in…like
Greek mythology - I’ve realised that after writing it, mind
you. All the characters want is a bit of love and tenderness and
don’t know how to find it, and I was fascinated by the way
events take over - with a purpose you might think. Seeming
coincidences…but I don’t believe in that."
"All the characters
want is a bit of love and tenderness and don’t know how
to find it,"
The film begins with the chaos of Hanif’s and Mimi’s
affair going hot and cold, and the chaos of Hanif and Dean
heisting Jerry’s bag of dope - and getting chased by an
enraged Jerry, propelling them into Mimi’s VW as she heads
off for Perth. The trip, the equivalent of London to Moscow by
car, has its adventures, among which is a chance meeting with
Morris (Weaving), a singer in a travelling rock group, who has a
big impact on Mimi - causing friction with Hanif. The journey
becomes more and more fraught, but it also helps define
Hanif’s feelings for Mimi. The climactic scenes bring
revelations and eventually a tragedy, as fate seems to swipe its
careless hand over the lives of the characters.
"The upside of a low
budget, is you just have to be more ingenious with what you
designer Steven Jones-Evans
Production designer Steven Jones-Evans had a tight budget with
limited travel for a film that crosses a continent. "The
upside of a low budget," he says, "is you just have to
be more ingenious with what you have."
First time producer Ann Darrouzet says the financing took a
year, "and was very trying at times…We wanted to get
high production values and a big soundtrack with a small
"It’s a lead role
for a charismatic, sexual Anglo-Indian" Producer Ann Darrouzet on the
casting of Naveen Andrews
On casting Naveen Andrews, Darrouzet says it was impossible to
cast within Australia. "It’s a lead role for a
charismatic, sexual Anglo-Indian. We did some screen tests but
without success. Stavros has seen Naveen is things like Buddha of
Suburbia and felt he was perfect…."
The target market for the film, Darrouzet believes, is under
25, city and country: "Universal…the young girl looking
for identity and issues of responsibility."
"...punk was dead and
I was depressed so I came to Australia, " Efthymiou
Efthymiou grew up around Australia Rd at Shepherds Bush,
"but then punk was dead and I was depressed so I came to
Australia. For three years I worked as a shunter at the railways,
at factories … went to Sydney College of the Arts because I
wanted to be a painter, moved to experimental videos and got
obsessed with narrative. I was about 28 when I felt I wanted to
make films." He is now 35 and especially enjoys the editing
process. "And production least…everyone thinks
you’re an egomaniac."