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GODDESS OF 1967

SYNOPSIS:
JM (Rikiya Kurokawa), a young Tokyo salaryman is obsessed with owning a Citroen DS (The Goddess), finds a 1967 model via the internet – in Australia. When he arrives to collect it, he finds the owner and his wife shot dead. A young blind woman, BG (Rose Byrne) is guarding a small child. But the car is there, although she says it really belongs to someone else, and she persuades him to take her there, a long drive in the outback. On the way, they confront their respective pasts, which for BG means recalling her troubled relationships with her mother (Elise McCredie) and abusive grandfather (Nicholas Hope). For him, a painful memory.

"Clara Law is an artist at film, as distinct perhaps from a filmmaker whose primary ambition is to excite teenagers, say. Law’s vision is always challenging and unique; her images on the screen are representative as much as naturalistic, and she plays with definition, colour, angle and motion. She sometimes jump cuts mid-scene, sometimes lingers….If you saw her 1996 feature, Floating Life, you’d know how starkly she can paint Australian settings. In The Goddess of 1967, Law takes that stark view of suburbia into the outback, but this time her story is dense, multi-layered and (to me) inscrutable. While I don’t pretend to understand everything in The Goddess of 1967, I do recognise that the way she draws together several elements is unique. So is the filmmaking style. As artists are wont to say, it is not for them to explain their works, but for us to interpret them for ourselves, each of us with our own unique set of (rose coloured, blue, green, red…) glasses. My take is that Law has assembled a romance of sorts around a fascination for details about the DS model of Citroen which she found symbolic. (Not sure of what.) But the elements of the story are spliced together from a variety of sources so the final result is rather like a montage that, seen from a distance as a whole, may carry some meaning, but each individual part is made of something different. Despite the cinematic flourish, it doesn’t quite work and the perfunctory ending is a disappointment. The story itself is simply a road, but the real action is taking place on the fields either side of it."
Andrew L. Urban

"Clara Law's latest film is something of a frustration, albeit an intriguing and absorbing one. A study of redemption told through the odyssey of two outsiders united by violent circumstance, this offers powerful themes and many vivid moments but some audiences may find their journey a little too elusive and fractured to walk away feeling satisfied. Law and co-writer Eddie L.C. Fong set themselves and the audience a firm challenge in making the story of a Japanese salaryman with a criminal past, a blind Australian woman with deep psychological wounds and a Citroen DS into a cohesive whole. For the most part they succeed as JM and particularly Deidre confront the demons fuelling their cross-country flight but a flawed conclusion spoils much of the solid drama preceding it. Deidre's memories of childhood abuse at the hands of her grandfather (Nicholas Hope, with an annoying accent that's meant to be Irish, it seems) and a violent sexual episode with a country boxer are played out with a rawness that leaves a lasting impression while the details of JM's troubled life in Tokyo are revealed gradually, adding to the tension as the pieces fall together. Although Deidre and JM's rites of passage to the final destination are absorbing there is a significant sense of let down in a climax that doesn't register in the same key as events leading up to it. Maybe it is meant to be interpreted as metaphor or imagining but it's hard to tell. Despite the murky finale there is still plenty to admire. Dion Beebe's photography of ruggedly beautiful lansdcapes and troubled faces is stunning - much of it admirably achieved with the old fashioned using with camera lens filters and not via post-production trickery. Venice Film Festival best actress recipient Rose Byrne proves she's yet another Australian talent to watch with a fine performance as Deidre and you don't have to be a car lover to gasp at the beauty of the aptly named Citroen Goddess. Also worth a special note are the classy titles and Citroen-related inserts designed by graphic artist Scott Otto Anderson. It's hard to see The Goddess Of 1967 exciting large box-office returns but for all its flaws it does present a refreshingly dark and different Australian road story and is worthy of attention."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

See our SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

GODDESS OF 1967 (MA)
(AUS)

CAST: Rose Byrne, Rikiya Kurokawa, Nicholas Hope, Elise McCredie

PRODUCER: Eddie Ling-Ching Fong

DIRECTOR: Clara Law

SCRIPT: Eddie Ling-Ching Fong, Clara Law

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dion Beebe

EDITOR: Kate Williams

MUSIC: Jen Anderson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nicholas McCallum

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 25, 2001 (Syd/Melb; other states to follow)

VIDEO RELEASE: September 5, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

AWARDS:
Best Actress, Rose Byrne, Venice Film Festival, 2000

Best Director, Clara Law, Chicago Film Festival, 2000







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