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Talk

Susan Lambert's first feature, after a number of interesting shorts and medium-length films, is a mixture of reality and fantasy that cogently explores the lives of two thirtysomething women friends during a period of less than 24 hours. The reality works much better than the fantasy, and this low-budgeter, which is already sparking fest interest, starting with Seattle, could have a modestly successful arthouse life.

With:
Julia Strong - Victoria Longley
Stephanie Ness - Angie Milliken
Jack/Harry - Richard Roxburgh
The Girl - Jacqueline McKenzie
Mac - John Jarratt
Witnesses - Ella-Mei Wong, Tenzing Tsewang, Kee Chan

Susan Lambert’s first feature, after a number of interesting shorts and medium-length films, is a mixture of reality and fantasy that cogently explores the lives of two thirtysomething women friends during a period of less than 24 hours. The reality works much better than the fantasy, but the net result is positive, and this low-budgeter, which is already sparking fest interest, starting with Seattle, could have a modestly successful arthouse life.

The title is apt; the women in this film certainly do talk. But the talk is interesting, funny and sharply written, and the superb actresses entrusted with all this dialogue never put a foot wrong.

Julia (Victoria Longley) is facing a crisis; for some time she’s turned a blind eye to her husband’s affair with a younger woman, but now she wants to bring matters to a head. Her best friend, Stephanie (Angie Milliken), is single but desperately wants a baby; she’s just come back from Tokyo where she had a frustratingly unfulfilled encounter with a man who might have given her her wish.

The two women work together writing and designing adult comic books. In an early scene, a spunky TV repairman (Richard Roxburgh), brought in to fix Stephanie’s TV set, openly eavesdrops on the women as Stephanie tells Julia about her Tokyo adventure in graphic detail.

As the day wears on, the increasingly distraught Julia suspects (for no very good reason) that she’s being followed by a girl (a tiny role for Jacqueline McKenzie), and jumps to the conclusion that this must be her husband’s mistress. Stephanie, meanwhile, arriving at the TV repair shop to collect her equipment, has a passionate and very satisfying encounter with the repairman.

All these scenes are funny, honest and abrasive, a tart look at career women and their hangups. Less successful are the fantasy scenes, which constantly interrupt the main action. Filmed like a lurid cartoon in hideous greens and reds, these feature the women (Longley with an amazing hairstyle) as detectives involved in a case details of which are never very clear. These scenes are mildly amusing, but detract from the main thrust of the film.

Longley and Milliken are splendid as the female buddies, but the supporting cast, apart from Roxburgh, who mainly has to look spunky, have little to do.

Production values are high for this very inexpensive production, which has been blown up from Super 16mm to 35mm most effectively. Ron Hagen’s cinematography is very good, Henry Dangar’s editing is sharp, and John Clifford White has provided an exciting music score.

Not by any means a film for everyone, this is still a confident first feature and one many people will enjoy.

Talk

Australian

Production: A Suitcase Films production in association with the Australian Film Commission. Produced by Megan McMurchy. Directed by Susan Lambert. Screenplay, Jan Cornall.

Crew: Camera (color), Ron Hagen; editor, Henry Dangar; music, John Clifford White; production design, Lissa Coote; costumes, Clarrissa Patterson; sound (Dolby), John Dennison, Tony Vaccher; assistant director, Keith Heygate; casting, Liz Mullinar. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Market), May 20, 1994 (also in Seattle Film Festival). Running time: 86 MIN.

With: Julia Strong - Victoria Longley
Stephanie Ness - Angie Milliken
Jack/Harry - Richard Roxburgh
The Girl - Jacqueline McKenzie
Mac - John Jarratt
Witnesses - Ella-Mei Wong, Tenzing Tsewang, Kee Chan

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