Smash Palace is a thoroughly remarkable drama about a marital break-up which erupts into an impulsive kidnapping of a child by its father and a totally-believable escalation to the brink of tragedy.
Roger Donaldson’s handling of actors is excellent, and his visual control constantly enthralling. The eponymous location is a vast junk-yard of cars, established by Al Shaw’s father, and now the panier of hope for Al, a former Grand Prix driver, returned to a remote New Zealand country town with a pregnant French wife.
However, his wife has, during the ensuing eight years, grown increasingly dissatisfied, and the early scenes economically establish the deeper reasons. The script’s expositional sequences are neatly handled, making the character development logically part of the narrative.
With strong performances by both Bruno Lawrence and Anna Jemison to work with, the director has effectively created a reality to the tension that goes beneath the surface – or as it might be said: has re-created real life on film.