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ROAD TO NHILL

SYNOPSIS:
Nhill is a small country town where nothing much happens, until the day a car with four lady bowlers returning home from a match flips over. No-one is seriously injured, it seems, but itís a shock. Confusion escalates as word spreads, misunderstandings couple with mistaken directions, and policemen arenít where theyíre supposed to be. The elderly husbands fret and search for their wives, but there were three carloads of bowlers, and no-one seems to know who was in the crash. The locals all try and help out, some of them driving out to Ten Mile in their crusty cars. In the end, everything is back to normal - almost.

"It must have been an irresistible idea at the time, a film featuring a handful of Australia's best veteran actors, bung 'em together in a confined space, explore a day in the life of a small country town, and see the magic come from the screen. Good ideas don't necessarily make for compelling cinema, and Road to Nhill is more a case of Road to NIL. There are some wonderful people here, like Paul Chubb, Bill Hunter, the exquisite Alwyn Kurts, the delightful Lois Ramsay, all doing some nice work, in this aimless comedy about a group of lawn bowlers whose car crashes near their home, turning the lives of the locals into a frenzy. But there's no frenzy. Just a lot of pausing. In fact, there's so much pausing in this film, that had they cut it out, the running time would have gone from 95 to 60 minutes. Harold Pinter can get away with it, but this is not Pinter. The idea is terrific, but the film is a meandering affair, a collage of small incidents with little development of character. It's a slice-of-life of Australiana, but it doesn't hang together, is whimsical and dreary without being funny. Such wonderful talent together in the one movie. Great, but with a sharper script and a sense of cohesion, the road might have been less empty."
Paul Fischer

"Very generous of you, Paul; I actually think the film needed a demanding script editor to restructure it. The four lady bowlers remain just the four lady bowlers for most of the film, and by the time we begin to see glimpses of characterisation, itís far too little and far too late. The idea is really one for a book, with much internal material of the characters for the reader to absorb, not for a fil. It is a well meaning but doomed exploration of the daily minutae of life and people in a country community, with far too little exposition or exploration. The observations often seem superficial. There is no strong dramatic conflict to propel the action, conflicts are haphazard, our attention wanders and this huge cast of 14 plus God and 23 supports is simply too heavy to get off the ground. Then there is the music: the opening score is a marvellous, jalopy ride with a unique feel, which later gives way to a cool jazz section reminiscent of Miles Davisí muted trumpet-led score for Lift to the Scaffold in the early 60s. This, I must say, is a strange choice: I love the music, but it sits at odds with the film. If itís meant to be an obtuse, joking comment, it fails. As a comedy, Road to Nhil is an underdeveloped path."
Andrew L. Urban

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ROAD TO NHILL (PG)
(Australia)

CAST: Tony Barry, Vicky Blanche, Paul Chubb, Lynette Curran, Matthew Dyktynski, Bill Hunter, Patricia Kennedy, Alwyn Kurts, Monica Maughan, Terry Norris, Lois Ramsay, Denise Roberts, Kerry Walker, Bill Young and the voice of Phillip Adams as God

DIRECTOR: Sue Brooks

PRODUCER: Sue Maslin

SCRIPT: Alison Tilson

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Nicolette Freeman

EDITOR: Tony Stevens

MUSIC: Elizabeth Drake

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Georgina Campbell

COSTUMES: Louise McCarthy

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Ronin Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 13, 1997 (Melb, ACT)
Nov 20: (Sydney);
Dec 4: (Perth, Brisb)

AWARDS: Best Script: 15th Turin International Film Festival (Nov. 1997, writer Alison Tilson)
Golden Alexander: Thessaloniki Film Festival(Dec. 1997)







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