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Friday, 2 December 1994

Everynight... Everynight

If the near-constant parade of light-hearted and quirky movies coming out of the local film industry have convinced you that that's all Australian film-makers are good for, then the release of Everynight... Everynight is going to come as a bigger shock than taking a bath with your toaster. This extremely bleak and downbeat look at what prison - in this case Pentridge Prison's notorious H Division - does to both the prisoners and their guards is based on the stage play by Ray Mooney (who's interviewed elsewhere in Limelight), and tells the story of Dale (David Field), a troublemaker held on remand at Pentridge in the early seventies. Despite not actually having been convicted of anything, his lack of respect for the system gets him shipped off to H Division, where in a very long and extremely brutal beating the guards explain to him exactly how things operate down there. What follows is a soul-crushing series of petty brutalities, beating, mindless work of the rock breaking kind, and mental torture designed to break his spirit. But instead of giving in, he gives up - he 'resigns' from humanity and encourages the others to do the same and break the prison code of 'never dob' on the brutal warders.

First time director Alkinos Tsilimidos pulls no punches here, with the black and white cinematography adding greatly to the already chilling atmosphere of the prison (it was filmed inside Geelong Goal). The acting is spot-on, with Field the clear stand-out in a very powerful role (and he's not afraid to be unsympathetic, knowing that our concern shouldn't be focused on the man - who, after all, is supposed to be Christopher Dale Flannery, Victoria's most notorious hitman - but the situations that he's in), but the rest of the cast, including Bill Hunter, are equally up to their gruelling tasks. The only real problem this has is that it's almost too gruelling - it begins on such an extreme of brutality that there's nowhere left for it to go, leaving the ending as a bit of a anticlimax. This is still worth catching though - it's hard to see anyone actually enjoying this, but as a powerful look at the brutality of the prison system it's hard to beat.

Anthony Morris

(this review appeared in Forte#128