ONE PERFECT DAY
Tommy Matisse (Dan Spielman) lives for his music, and hears music in everything around him – from the rhythms of traffic to the pounding of his girlfriend’s Alysse (Leanna Walsman)’s heart. His mother Carolyn (Kerry Armstrong) doesn’t understand him. But Tommy is sensitive to everything - except the calls from those who need him, including his younger sister Emma (Abbie Cornish) who is going through a personal crisis. Fuelled by a concoction of pills from casual young drug dealer Trig (Nathan Phillips), Emma and Alysse’s night of partying ends in tragedy. Overwhelmed by guilt, Alysse tells Tommy what happened, but his anger destroys their relationship. Alysse heads down a path of drugs and destruction, falling into the arms of record producer/drug dealer Hector Lee (Andrew Howard), while Tommy struggles with his emotions and musical expression.
Review by Louise Keller:
A story about life and death, One Perfect Day explores self-discovery through the music that strings emotions together. Frenetic, rhythmic and rousing, the film is a kaleidoscope of intensity, as we enter deep into the bowels of the erratic rave scene. The story may flounder in parts, but the emotions are clear.
Director Paul Currie hones in on individual stories enveloped in the world of flashing lights, drugs and music. In search of a new way to connect with today’s youth, Tommy has an ear that is so sensitive, that the squeal of a train on a steel track sounds like a symphony of sorts. He hears ‘the unheard sounds’, or the music and harmonies that evoke from everyday things. The beat of a heart, pigeons in flight, crickets chirping, a drop of water falling, the echo near a waterfall, the rumble of an empty drink can rolling on an asphalt road. While Tommy may be ultra sensitive where his music is concerned, he is a dreamer, lacking the insight for those who need him. His sister Emma is calling out for help, but Tommy is locked within his own world. Alysse can reach him on one level, but their idealistic love affair is far from straight forward. ‘We’ll be home wherever we go,’ she tells Tommy, as she explains how she feels his presence whether he is with her physically or not.
While celebrating Emma’s birthday, things come to a head at the dance party, when she and Alysse are captive to the drugs that they believe enable them to be themselves. Lovable ratbag drug dealer Trig (‘I’m a distribution specialist’) presses his birthday gift (‘the icing on the cake’) into Alysse’s hands, and her fate is sealed. Fun turns to horror and the nightmare begins. Dan Spielman is reminiscent of a young Hugh Jackman, expressive and sensitive, although it’s Nathan Phillips who remains the most memorable (and satisfying) character. Using his tongue like a slithering snake and sporting a mop of multi-coloured hair that resembles an alley cat, Trig is a character that touches us. He is flawed, but he has a conscience. I like Andrew Howard’s Hector, the tough club owner with an Achilles heel, while Kerry Armstrong injects strong emotions as the helpless mother. The intoxicating cocktail of drugs and music in this distorted world is a potent one to the senses.
Superb production design and a pulsating music track are the film’s highpoint, including Lisa Gerrard’s harmonies with Ali Macgregor in the climactic, final song with its resonant 48 piece orchestra and choir. Targeted for a 15-30 year old audience, One Perfect Day is an ambitious film that may not always work, but is at its most effective as it takes us into its reality. It’s a shallow world and the stakes are high. Perhaps the quest for ecstasy – be it chemically induced or not – is nothing but an illusion. But like a mirage after the trip is over, we are left with a sobering dose of reality. Like the film.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Even though it doesn’t come off perfectly, One Perfect Day has a lot going for it, and is a welcome addition to the Australian film catalogue. It deals with themes not usually confronted by mainstream filmmakers, and does so in an energetic and dramatic manner. Taking us inside the rave dance & drug culture, Paul Currie wants to connect with his audience by showing it like it is. This works, in a display of natural cinematic talent, as he blends vision, sound and drama, with economical use of dialogue, but lots of visual messages.
The insights don’t quite make for revelation about the culture, but invite understanding on at least a simple, human level. There is no preaching, but by showing his understanding of the power and effect of the music, Paul Currie delivers a gutsy anti-drug sermon without saying a word, as it were. Just look around you, he is saying; dig the music, it’s cool and creative and triggers fabulous, imaginative self expression. But there is a loneliness there, too, and the evident, heavy downside of the uppers.
The top young cast gives everything a director could wish for; there’s not a wasted line, not a false note from any of them as they create tangible characters we recognise. With 45 titles on the soundtrack (including the title song in two versions) adding to original music by Josh Abrahams, the film is pretty well non stop music, and it drives the film.
The most surprising music credit here is Lisa Gerrard, who co-wrote Sunrise with orbital, and provides a too-short vocal on it. The film is contempo, sincere and a solid platform from which Paul Currie can develop his feature film career.
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DAN SPIELMAN INTERVIEW
ONE PERFECT DAY (M)
CAST: Dan Spielman, Leanna Walsman, Kerry Armstrong, Abbie Cornish, Nathan Phillips, Rory Williamson, Frank Gallacher, Alex Menglet, Syd Brisbane
PRODUCER: Paul Currie, Phil Gregory
DIRECTOR: Paul Currie
SCRIPT: Paul Currie, Chip Richards
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gary Ravenscroft
EDITOR: Gary Woodyard
MUSIC: Josh G. Abrahams, David Hobson, Paul Van Dyk
PRODUCTION DESIGN: MacGregor Knox
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 19, 2004
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: September 9, 2002