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Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Combination

Fresh out of prison, John Morkos (George Basha, who also wrote the script) returns to his western Sydney home looking to start over. Unfortunately his younger brother Charlie (Firass Dirani) looks set to make all the same mistakes. He's hanging out with a gang, getting into fights, and when the local drug lord makes him a (job) offer he can't refuse he's all too happy to take the cash. While John's working as a cleaner at a tough-as-nails gym and trying to make it work with his all-Aussie girlfriend Sydney (Clare Bowden), Charlie's getting in deeper and deeper. His life seems to be going down a too-familiar path, and not even his brother can save him from the consequences. An Australian film set in the gritty inner-city usually means getting hammered about the head with the same old cliches, but The Combination (mostly) avoids the typical traps. The characters are well-drawn, the story is well-paced, we see the consequences of a life of crime rather than just the glamour and the racial divide between John and Sydney is simply a (painful) fact to be dealt with rather than a massive injustice (though Sydney's racist parents do like a lecture). David Field is best known for his acting but in his first turn as director he keeps the tone matter-of-fact even when the script gets wobbly. As a result this small film - while hardly earth-shattering - gets the job done in a way that a slew of more ambitious local films could only dream of.

Anthony Morris (this review was published in Forte #448)