Monday, 13 July 2009
There are some things Australian films just don't do well, and they don't all involve big-budget alien invasions. For example, our films are usually lacking when it comes to generating suspense: you might want to know what happens next, but that's almost always because you've taken a liking to the characters, not because they're in a situation where you're actually anywhere near the edge of your seat. And while it might be fair to argue that Last Ride isn't really a suspense kind of film, focusing as it does on the relationship between Kev (Hugh Weaving) a fairly dodgy character who just happens to be taking his pre-teen son Chook (Tom Russell) on a low-budget cross-country journey to parts unknown, that's no reason for it to be as flat and half-hearted as it turns out to be. It gets all the things right that Australian film traditionally gets right: it's very well acted, extremely well shot, and takes full advantage of its setting (the outback of South Australia) to show off both the bush and the landscape itself in a visually interesting way. But fairly early on in the piece it becomes obvious that Kev is on the run from the cops, and as the story unfolds it's not unreasonable to assume that there's a pretty big manhunt going on for them. So for the story to then unfold in a manner that's almost completely lacking in suspense or drama is pretty much a calculated insult to the reasonable expectations of the audience. On the flip side, it's fair to argue that this is a film more about the relationship between father and son than a man on the run from the cops, but with plenty of long, drawn-out scenes that add little to either side of things there's no reason that this couldn't have done both. Last Ride remains a worthy film; unfortunately, we've already got more than enough of those.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #456)