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SIAM SUNSET

SYNOPSIS:
Perry (Linus Roache), a paint designer for an English paint company, is devastated when his beautiful redhead wife is killed in a bizarre accident. He yearns to find the perfect colour, Siam Sunset, to match his late wife’s hair. Winning an Australian outback coach holiday at the bingo one night with his dad gives him the perfect opportunity to get away and perhaps snap out of the doldrums and get himself back into life. His only reservation is that accidents seem to follow him wherever he goes. Once on the coach, he begins an extraordinary journey in the company of assorted fellow travelers, including the mysterious and beautiful Grace (Danielle Cormack), who is on the run from her boyfriend, the drug dealing doctor Martin (Ian Bliss). Perry’s perilous journey takes him to places he never imagined, and gives him a chance to discover a new life – if he wants to.

"After two viewings, it’s even more evident that the film’s great appeal is that it lets the audience discover the humour without being told when to laugh. The spontaneity of the humour, often surrounded by the debris of life’s dramas, gives the film a bitter sweet quality and helps to engage us with the genuine emotional issues raised. Excellent performances from Linus Roache and Danielle Cormack serve to illustrate the importance of casting – and prove it was well done on this occasion. Roache has exactly the right mix of wistful vulnerability and underplayed comedic touch, and Cormack’s is an intelligent and spirited characterisation that is fresh and funny and appealing all at once. John Polson’s unique vision for the material maximises the script with a couple of genres threaded into a satisfying new one – Siamese, perhaps - and a couple of little holes are easily overcome. Stylistically, there is an echo of Strictly Ballroom’s mix of slightly farcical characters (caractertures?) spinning like planets around the naturalistic central roles. Grabowski paints some lovely musical colours into our psyche, in the film’s emotional keys. Production designer Jones-Evans had fun with his brief and so do we, and editing is often used as an extra tool to extract additional humour from a scene – as is Breheny’s splendid cinematography. Accomplished, warm and unmistakably Australian, Siam Sunset will recharge your batteries without insulting your intelligence."
Andrew L. Urban

"Black and quirky, Siam Sunset sparkles with originality, and is peppered with enough black humour to displace your epicentre. John Polson's ability to balance the humour is probably the biggest strength of this feel-good road comedy. Good comedy is pathos and there's plenty of it here - all played for real. The laughs creep up on you – at first it's a surprise, then the humour gets under your skin until it has totally diffused through the psyche. The two central characters are rock steady; we use them as our barometer. As for the rest, they're an assortment of lovable oddballs, many of whom are clever caricatures. Everything is handled with a light tough – from the economical script to Paul Grabowski's terrific music, the complexity of which is only matched by its melodic prowess. The melodies linger and you'll come out of the theatre humming the haunting theme. Brian Breheny's splendid cinematography captures the dusty locations and the vastness of Australia. But underneath the flippancy lie fundamental issues such as the pursuit of that elusive thing called peace. Siam Sunset has a big heart and it's got pulse. Linus Roache plays it straight in a role that John could have played himself. Roache is restrained, understated and manages the nuances beautifully. Danielle Cormack is the perfect counterpoint– she is appealing and effects honesty without effort. The entire cast is great, with some outstanding support performances that ring true blue. This is a splendid debut for John Polson, whose personality shines through like a spectacular sunset, ripe with expression and textured by a shock of black humour."
Louise Keller

"Aussie movies satirising the outback and its plethora of quaintly oddball characters have often been a trademark of Australian cinema. Most recently the ploy was attempted -but failed miserably - in Stephan Elliott's excessively vulgar Welcome to Woop Woop. So Siam Sunset may feel like familiar territory. Familiar it may be, but with its brazenly sharp script and assured direction by first-time feature helmsman John Polson, the film is a wonderful surprise, a highly engaging comedy with a dark edginess to it rarely seen in Australian movies. Scribes Max Dann and Andrew Knight have created a collage of memorably idiosyncratic characters that enhance the landscape traversed by the film's central character. In this film, the technique works to sublime effect, and as played by a marvellous collection of local character actors, the characters burst alive with a unique, comical richness that permeates throughout the film. At the heart of Siam Sunset, however, is a wonderful journey of self-discovery of its two protagonists, played with maturity and gusto by Britain's Linus Roache and New Zealand's lovely Danielle Cormack, respectively. Their relationship is handled with a spirited aplomb, and it grows and develops beautifully. This is a film about finding oneself even in the midst of despair, and thematically, this piece is rich and poignant, even amidst scenes of unexpected hilarity. Director Polson has always had an eye for quirky character and a visual style that is highly vivid, as exemplified by his wonderful shorts. He directs this material with fluency and visual depth -the movie's use of colour is simply staggering. It's a beautiful film to watch, as well as a glorious one to listen to. It's funny, sexy, intelligent and deliciously rewarding. Indeed, a journey well worth travelling."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with
JOHN POLSON

SIAM SUNSET (MA)
(Australia)

CAST: Linus Roache, Danielle Cormack, Ian Bliss, Roy Billing, Alan Brough, Rebecca Hobbs, Terry Kenwrick, Deidre Reubenstein, Peter Hosking, Victoria Eagger, Robert Menzies, Eliza Lovell

DIRECTOR: John Polson

PRODUCER: Al Clark

SCRIPT: Max Dann, Andrew Knight, John Polson

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brian Breheny

EDITOR: Nicholas Beauman

MUSIC: Paul Grabowsky

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Steven Jones-Evans

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 9, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: March 24, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: CIC







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