The King

Year: 2007
Production Co: Crackerjack Productions
Director: Matthew Saville
Cast: Stephen Curry, Shaun Micallef, Garry McDonald, Steve Bisley
What could the life story of Graham Kennedy possibly have in common with political powerhouse thrillers like Syriana and Michael Clayton?

At its most thrilling, it gives you an insight into a world you don't know and which has its own customs and subculture the likes of which are impenetrable even to those who inhabit it most of the time.

'Thrilling' isn't a word you'd expect to hear used describing a biopic of Australian TVs most prolific star, but I felt I was getting a special insight into a shadowy, half-acknowledged world I'd never quite understand but which was populated with larger than life personalities like Kennedy, Harry M Miller (Bisley) or Sir Frank Packer.

Stephen Curry, long a hanger on in daggy Australian comedies like The Castle and Thunderstruck, is finally given a role he can sink his talent into - one that reveals itself as being considerable with the right script, art direction, make-up and production design behind him. You wouldn't peg him as looking like the bug-eyed Kennedy, but his transformation not just into the TV king but across the decades, covering some 40 years of his life, are astonishing.

Portrayed lovingly as a sad clown but without rose coloured glasses, Kennedy is characterised as a slightly egomaniacal and ambitious radio co-announcer who fell into TV at the right time, a medium that was tailor made for his irreverent style.

The time I and much of Generation X knew him - from the 70s on - he's depicted as a Howard Hughes-type recluse, rejecting all comers who desperately want him back apart for a series of short lived projects not really worthy of his style.

It's a historical document, a snapshot of an era (or rather, several of them), and solid entertainment by director Matthew Saville. After his last film, the dreadfully dull but cinematographically accomplished Noise, we shouldn't be surprised.

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