To his neighbours and workmates, Max Grief (Travis McMahon) is just another suburban misfit, a private man who shuns the city for the occasional solace of the bush. But they don't know what he does out there, don't see the blood on his hands, the shallow graves of his victims. To Lorraine Jackson (Georgii Speakman) he's the shy working man who lives across the street she quite fancies. But she's never spoken to him, until a sabotaged water pipe brings them together. Lorraine's tender, loving nature is something Max has never known and he sees a chance to be free of his murderous ways once and for all. But haunted by the memory of his sadistic father and racked by self loathing, he is soon back on the road looking for his next kill.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Dealing in the darkest recesses of a destructive and corrosive father son relationship, Roadman is an unusual thriller in that its focus is so intense that we forget to wonder about its construct. Travis McMahon (so good in another taut Aussie thriller, Cactus, 2008) plays an introverted loner haunted by his late sadistic father. The father urges him on to terrible deeds, and there is perhaps no psychoanalyst who could untangle the mess, but for cinematic purposes it's enough.
In true genre style, his name is Max Grief; as in maximum grief. Also in true genre style, love redeems his soul, if nothing else. But it's the journey that matters to us, as we follow him on first his murderous exploits and then into the unchartered waters of emotions he has never felt before.
McMahon is excellent as the dry loner whose bitterness is kept inside as it corrodes his humanity. We know he has some by the end, but we also know he has little control over his impulses to kill - somehow driven by his dead father.
Georgii Speakman gives Lorraine an authenticity that glues her side of the story together, and she even manages to make credible her scenes near the end when the screenplay asks a great deal of her with new information at a time she is most vulnerable.
The film is made with more invention than real resources but that doesn't matter. There are perhaps not enough layers developed in the screenplay, and Peter Leovec relies too much on Duncan Campbell's insistent score to get him through. Both could have used a tad more subtlety to tell the story.
Like so many Australian films, it's a solid work, but it has neither the scale (what's at risk) or the dynamics (emotional layers) for the commercial lift-off it might otherwise have generated. Ideal for its distribution strategy, of course, a simultaneous DVD and online release.
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ROADMAN: DVD (MA15+)
CAST: Travis McMahon, Georgii Speakman, Clementine Mellor, Saxon Cordeaux, Peter Green, Stefan Dursk, Steve Turner, Roger Newcombe, Alan Curry, Chris Pitman
PRODUCER: Peter Leovic, Stephen Prime
DIRECTOR: Peter Leovic
SCRIPT: Peter Leovic
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen Prime
EDITOR: Stephen Prime, Richard Lanyon
MUSIC: Duncan Campbell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: James Mellor
RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Southern Light Media & Roadman Pictures
DVD RELEASE: October 21, 2011 (simultaneously online)