Review: ‘Turning April’

Several themes juggle for attention in this Aussie-Canadian co-production, which is part kidnap drama, part romance and part revenge movie, but dramatic structure remains unresolved. Despite a good perf from Tushka Bergen as a young wife kidnapped by an unlikely gang of thieves, long-delayed pic isn't likely to elicit much box office interest. Pic had a brief summer release via Alliance in the Toronto area. Though backed by two Canuck government agencies, "Turning April" is a wholly Aussie drama, set in Sydney and featuring Australian characters and situations. James W. Nichol's screenplay touches quite a few bases but never gets beneath the surface of its characters, while Geoffrey Bennett's direction is extremely uneven. This is Bennett's second feature after the unreleased 1989 pic "Boys in the Island."

Early scenes establish Bergen as April, bored young wife and mother; her husband, Chappie Mundy (Christopher Morsley), is a self-absorbed bureaucrat. While avoiding the sexual advances of Chappie’s boss, April spends her time

shoplifting petty items. Scenes involving April’s parents obliquely suggest a history of child abuse: Her philatelist father (Kenneth Welsh) has a strange attitude toward her; her mother, who’s seriously into environmental causes, has

little time for her.

Things take off when a store that April’s checking out is invaded by a quintet of masked young robbers who almost accidentally make off with her with her after they steal a minuscule amount of cash. This hard-to-swallow kidnapping is followed by lengthy scenes of April and the gang at a warehouse hideout. She gradually falls for Leif (Aaron Blabey), who, like her, is scarred – in his case, literally. Eventually, she leads the gang to her father’s house and his valuable stamp collection, but the denouement – which involves an unmotivated revenge shooting – is totally implausible.

Comedy elements are awkwardly handled, especially some sub–Harold Pinter dialogue in a post-funeral scene, in which characters aimlessly repeat themselves. The theme of child molestation seems too serious to be used in such

a routine romantic story.

Pic is professionally made, with Steve Arnold’s camera often lingering lovingly on Bergen’s face.

Turning April



A UIP (Australia)/Alliance Communications (Canada) release of an Australian Film Finance Corp./Telefilm Canada/Ontario Film Development Corp. presentation of a Total Film and Television (Sydney)/Alliance Communications (Toronto) co-production. (International sales: Alliance.) Produced by Lael McCall, Heather Ogilvie. Executive producers, Phil Gerlach, Robert Lantos. Co-producer, John Winter. Directed by Geoffrey Bennett. Screenplay, James W. Nichol.


Camera (color), Steve Arnold; editor, Susan Shipton; music, Lesley Barber; production design, Michael Philips; costumes, Clarrissa Patterson; sound (Ultra Stereo), Bronwyn Murphy; assistant director, Vicki Sugars; casting, Faith Martin. Reviewed at Greater Union Cinema 2, Mosman, Australia, July 17, 1996. Running time: 100 MIN.


April Mundy ...... Tushka Bergen Leif ...... Aaron Blabey Malcolm Sutherland ...... Kenneth Welsh Mary Sutherland ...... Judi Farr Chappie Mundy ...... Christopher Morsley Kyra ...... Dee Smart Donny ...... Tayler Kane Robin ...... Lucy Hill Rose ...... Justine Clarke
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