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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Cedar Boys

Take a group of young guys growing up in one of Australia's more macho ethnic communities, add some crime (often drug-related), throw in a blonde-haired, blue-eyed model-esque all-Aussie love interest, and you've got... well, at least three Australian films this year. Clearly it's a popular formula amongst film-makers at the moment and it's not hard to figure out why. Tight-knit communities like to see themselves up on the screen, so there's your core market, while on an artistic level crime films are a solid way of dramatising second-generation migrant's drive to make it in the wider community. Not to mention the guns, drugs, car chases, and numerous opportunities to film scenes in strip clubs. Cedar Boys works because, unlike the recent and somewhat similar Two Fists One Heart and The Combination, it's a crime film first. Mind you, director Serhat Caradee hasn't made a great crime film, but by keeping its stereotypical trio of young Sydney Lebs (one's nice, one's worried, one's reckless) focused on first stealing a drug dealer's stash and then selling the drugs, he ensures the story doesn't get bogged down in the kind of family dramas and issues of ethnic identity that are beyond its capabilities. It'd be easy to nit-pick at this films numerous flaws and (for one) the ending is far too cliched), but at it's heart it does what it sets out to do: tell a simple, straight-forward crime story based firmly in one of Australia's ethnic communities. There's a place for solid, undemanding entertainment in Australian film, and for a low-key pulp thriller this ticks all the right boxes.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #458)

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