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Peaches

Year: 2004
Production Co: Peach Films Pty Ltd
Director: Craig Monahan
Producer: Craig Monahan
Writer: Sue Smith
Cast: Hugo Weaving, Jacqueline McKenzie, Emma Lung
I saw the sweeping, beautiful Australian landscape, the teenager struggling with her identity and burgeoning sexuality, the backdrop of a rapidly dwindling rural economy and I thought 'here we bloody go again'.

Surprisingly, it wasn't nearly that bad, and the rural setting was less a character in itself than it was simply a backdrop, which is more than most Australian directors manage in their orgasmic joy at long, sweeping camera shots over floodplains, rivers and salt pans.

The plot was pretty contrived as well as predictable. Though the affair between Steph (Lung) and Alan (Weaving) was a bit icky, it was entirely expected given her adopted mother's (McKenzie) hatred of him.

What gave the film an edge was the dialogue (though not necessarily the script). Whether it was written on the page or delivered because of the skills of seasoned performers like Weaving and McKenzie and the fresh-faced, country-style beauty of Lung, there was something honest and casual about it, not the self-aware script-sprinkling of anachronisms that makes the dialogue of so many Australian movies feel forced.

Steph is a young country girl in the care of her mother's best friend Jude (McKenzie) since her parents were killed in a car crash while her mother was about to give birth to her. Jude, the boyfriend Alan she now hates, Steph and most of the other townspeople all work in the peach cannery, and Steph is having a crisis of identity as she tries to learn who her mother was.

The diary her grandfather gives to her starts to reveal her mother's freewheeling spirit, the foursome's promise to leave town and move to Queensland in search of adventure, and her heartbreak when Alan gets the union foreman's job which will turn him into a soulless moneyman and Jude decides to stay with him.

Steph rebels against Jude's overprotective spirit and the resentment she feels at the town being so dead and full of hate when her parents and their friends were so full of fun before she was born. She expresses it in some ways that were hard to believe - such as sleeping with Alan - but you've seen the story a hundred times. The joy is in the delivery.

The unconventionally pretty Lung could have been the hottest thing since sliced bread in Australian films after this, but uninspired parts in Khoa Do's footy comedy Footy Legends and the ditzy love interest in Brisbane teen drama 48 Shades followed and she became something of a has been before she even arrived.

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