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Jack Flange (Alex O'Lachlan) has left Sydney and taken a job with down to earth Hawksbury River oyster farmer Brownie (David Field) and his crusty dad Seamus (Jim Norton) so he can be closer to his sister Nikki (Claudia Harrison) who's recovering after a car accident at a nearby hospital. Brownie's wife Trish (Kerry Armstrong) has temporarily moved out and is working for a competing oyster farmer, a cause of friction. In a desperate (and bizarre) attempt to pay off the medical bills, Jack steals the Fish Markets takings and posts the cash in an express satchel to himself, but the package is lost. Meanwhile, Jack has met the attractive Pearl (Diana Glen) and is getting to know her, along with other locals including Vietnam Vet Skippy (Jack Thompson) who gives him curt advice about love and revenge. When it's time for Nikki to transfer to the bigger hospital at Gosford, Jack has to decide whether to stay on the river - and maybe with Pearl - or head off again.

Review by Louise Keller:
A thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy drama about a small community whose livelihood relies on the precious natural phenomenon of the oyster, Oyster Farmer is engaging, revealing and funny all at once. It's a remarkably assured debut for writer/director Anna Reeves, whose characters have enough grit to turn an oyster into a pearl. The Hawkesbury River locations are breathtakingly beautiful - sheer natural beauty of the maze of waterways surrounded by remote bushland and mangroves - wonderfully shown off by Alun Bollinger's cinematography.

The characters are true blue Aussies who call a spade a spade, and do so with the kind of colourful lingo ('shut your cakehole') that will baffle the uninitiated. All the locals have equally descriptive names - from Brownie to Mumbles, Pearl, Slug and Skippy. The best thing about the film is the mood that lingers and the way we are drawn to the characters and their individual predicaments. It's as though we have sneaked into the back of one of the boats that are the sole method of transportation, and dip into their lives. Performances are all excellent, and Reeves' well-written script ensures characters that are both complex and multi-layered. Stephen Warbeck's glorious score just seems to capture the spirit of these hybrid Irish/Australian settlers who look much tougher than they are.

End of the world? Or a little corner of heaven? Life is pretty tough for the oyster farmer, and Brownie (David Field) is a real battler. It doesn't take much to lose a whole batch of oysters; they can spawn too early, prompted by the teensiest disturbance. Brownie is pretty sensitive too; his missus Trish (Kerry Armstrong) has left him, and to make matters worse, is making her own way in this tough world where men rule. She even has a sixth sense when it comes to oysters. Brownie's Irish Dad Mumbles (Jim Norton) is a funny old codger. He loves the life on the river and thrives on his conflict-filled relationship with Slug (Alan Cinis), the local sewerage collector. Skippy (Jack Thompson) is a Vietnamese vet paranoid about his privacy, who hangs around with other war vets, playing cards, board games and drinking beer. Jack (Alex O'Laughlan) is a newcomer - Brownie gives him a job 'because he was the only one who answered the ad'. And then Jack meets Pearl (Diana Glenn), Slug's rebellious daughter, who has a penchant for collecting expensive shoes.

There's a robbery, a dog race, an oyster show and a dog-napping. And that's just for starters. There's sex on a rickety pier, and the rekindling of a relationship that's foundering involving an old bathtub and a bundle of marbles. Renovations and relatives are the two reasons for marriage breakdowns, says Trish. And there's a new definition for love - 'it's a wretched business: like pissing against an electric fence.'

On the DVD, there's an extract from Movies Now, in which Andrew L. Urban goes on set and talks to cast and crew. In addition to deleted and extended scenes, there is also an audio commentary by director Anna Reeves, another by David Field and producer Anthony Buckley, plus two short films by Reeves - La Vie En Rose and The Imploding Self.

Published February 23, 2006

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CAST: Kerry Armstrong, David Field, Alex O'Lachlan, Diana Glen, Jack Thompson, Claudia Harrison, Jim Norton

PRODUCER: Piers Tempest, Anthony Buckley

DIRECTOR: Anna Reeves

SCRIPT: Anna Reeves


EDITOR: Janie Trevill, Peter Beston

MUSIC: Stephen Warbeck

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Jones-Evans

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes



PRESENTATION: Widescreen 16 x 9

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Anna Reeves; audio commentary by David Field and producer Anthony Buckley; La Vie En Rose (short film by Anna Reeves); The Imploding self (short film by Anna Reeves); cast & crew interviews; deleted & extended scenes; on the set of Oyster Farmer


DVD RELEASE: February 8, 2006

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