Thursday, 21 June 2007

Australian Rules

Australian Rules uses the sport as a means of pitching Anglo and Aboriginal boys/men in the same frame. Set in a small coastal town in South Australia, a Tidy Town runner up from 1982 demonstrates its less tidy attitudes of tolerance and respect. The focus of the story is a boy (16 year old?) named Blacky (who is white) and his best mate Dumby Red (who is black). Both play footy in the only local team which wins through to play in the district grand final. Although the team needs the Aboriginal players to fill out the team, it is their talent and flair that has got the team through to the final. Off the pitch however they are met with racism and difference and it is this attitude which ultimately leads to the wrongful death of Red.
Blacky, a quietly spoken and sensitive fellow, long an admirer of Red's sister, finds that she is the only one to whom he can talk to deal with his grief at the death of his friend and their relationship blossoms. It is one of the sweetest parts of the movie.
Blacky's father is a local fisherman, played with mean vengeance by Simon Westaway whose presence perfectly fills the role of wife-beater and hard drinker who intimidates all those around him. In the end he leaves and you breathe a sigh of relief for the family. They will not be better off financially but there can be no price on emotional and spiritual (not to mention physical) health. The movie ends with Blacky and Red's sister leaving the town to start a life together.
The movie is characterised by wonderful acting of the three young leads (Nathan Phillips, Luke Carroll and Lisa Flanagan), the wholly believable set-up (it could be any town across the country) and the way that it deals sensitively without sermonising the themes of friendship, racism and tolerance.

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