Dedicated “to all homeless animals,” this homemade pic is of historic interest in Australia because it is the first to be released in several cinemas simultaneously in a digital-only version. With 10 screens lined up for October and more to follow, that’s a first Down Under. Otherwise, “Finding Joy” is unremarkable, a modest love story aimed at romantic fortysomethings, dog fanciers and country and Western music lovers. In rural locations this mix could spell reasonable business, with subsequent DVD biz a given.
First-time writer-director-actor Billie Dean toplines as Joy, a middle-aged divorcee living alone outside a small town (pic was shot in and around picturesque Braidwood, NSW). She’d like to be a country singer/songwriter but lacks experience. Her fortunes change when she’s “adopted” by a faithful dog she names Raffi and meets Peter (Andrew Einspruch), a divorced songwriter who encourages her. The path to true love is blocked by Peter’s devotion to his daughter, Joy’s lack of confidence and the temporary disappearance of Raffi. All ends well in a very modest feel-good affair loaded with songs and attractive scenery. Lead performances are a tad stilted.