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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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On the eve of his 31st birthday (January 28, 1999), Edward Burns’ third movie opens in Australia; this time, it’s not romantic comedy but drama, and it tests Burns’ ‘heat’, which first singed audiences at Sundance in 1995.   He’s still hot, as this brief profile suggests.

Edward Burns returns to the world of the Working class in No Looking Back. His first film, The Brothers McMillen, torpedoed the actor/writer/director to prominence in 1995 when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize.

That romantic comedy went on to earn the Best Feature Award at the 1996 Independent Spirit Awards. Shot on just US$25,000 (even lower than some Australian film budgets) The Brothers McMullen ended up multiplying its production costs 400-fold, taking over US$10 million in its theatrical release (a lot more than many Australian films).

"I wanted to do a drama about a working class community, the kind of people I grew up with"

Burns followed up with another romantic comedy, She’s The One, which he wrote, directed and starred in, along with Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston.

In his third time out, Burns takes yet another look at very real people from a working class world, but in a dramatic context, exploring life, love and dreams from a serious perspective.The story centres on Claudia (Lauren Holy – whom Burns once dated), a bright, attractive woman who has a steady relationship with an adorable and adoring man, Michael (Jon Bon Jovi) and a steady job at the local diner. While her dreams take her far beyond this small, seaside town, her mother’s (Blythe Danner) ongoing depression over a failed marriage, as well as her bond with her good humoured sister Kelly (Connie Britton), keep Claudia from straying too far from home.

It is the unexpected return of Claudia’s ex-boyfriend, Charlie (Edward Burns) that forces her to re-examine her life, the choices she’s made and the dreams she’s all but given up on.

"I wanted to do a drama about a working class community, about the kind of people I grew up with and take a look at what their lives are like as they hit their 30s and started to put their adolescent dream aside."

"Guilt is a good reality check"

Tom Keogh, writing about Burns’ new film, has this to say: "For his new work, No Looking Back, Edward Burns uses Springsteen's music (and that of the rocker's wife, Patty Scialfa) to add thematic fuel and atmosphere to a classic American story about restless souls chafing against the constraints of a small hometown. Burns' interesting spin on the archetypal tale is that his characters are not kids looking to get out while they're young, but rather adults very near the end of their tattered, fading hopes."

Burns says he himself suffers not from faded hopes but from Irish-Catholic guilt. "Guilt is a good reality check. It keeps that 'do what makes you happy' thing in check."

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