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Clubland

Year: 2007
Production Co: Essential Pictures
Director: Cherie Nowlan
Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Emma Booth, Katie Wall, Frankie J Holden, Russell Dykstra, Rebecca Gibney, Philip Quast
Currently the darling of the Australian film circuit, lauded by most of the press and held in high hopes by the producer and distributor.

I didn't get to review it for any media and I'm kind of glad of that, because I feel sorry for them and all the faith they've put in it.

It deals with an overbearing English lady (Blethyn) who makes her living as an entertainer on the RSL club circuit in and around Sydney. Her two sons, the shy, soft-spoken one (Chittenden) and his mentally disabled brother live under what in many ways is a repressive yoke, not helped at all by her bitterness at the fame stolen from her by a life of responsibility.

Making things worse is the loss of her son to impending adulthood as he falls hard for a local girl (Booth) and starts to extricate himself from her orbit.

The boys' father (Holden), a blow-in after her affections (Quast) and her best friend (a surprisingly skanky Gibney) all float around as well. I know that all sounds like a pretty insipid description, but that's also the problem with the movie. There's a lot in it, but it's not about anything.

Do we care about the bumbling 20-year-old who doesn't know what to do with a naked girl when she throws herself at him? The boisterous and funny but also cruel and selfish mother who finally admits life has passed her by? Yes, that sounds nasty but little in the film endears you to any of the characters or makes you really care what happens to them.

The focus is nowhere and everywhere and despite making a splash at Sundance I fear this will be another Australian critical favourite that tanks.

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