An undisciplined yarn about three Sydney sailors about to sail for Iraq, “Three Blind Mice” gets caught in the trap of its John Cassavetes-like aspirations. Using “Husbands” and also Hal Ashby’s “The Last Detail” as touchstones, this sophomore directing stint by thesp Matthew Newton (2004’s “Right Here Right Now”) is a series of awkwardly navigated setpieces buoyed by occasionally dazzling perfs (especially by Newton himself) from local names. Commercial release will make some small waves in Oz, but international auds are more likely to jump ship.
Sailors Sam (Ewen Leslie), Dean (Toby Schmitz) and Harry (Newton) want to celebrate before they set sail on the HMAS Dignity. Slick Harry orders hotel-room hookers as compensation for dull Sam, who is involved in a military scandal that leads to a sea of troubles later. Misogyny and racism are played for dark laughs, but despite a last-minute nod to “The Caine Mutiny,” pic lacks the moral center needed to justify its tone of juvenile outrageousness. Other than the superb Jackie Weaver as Sam’s mother, the actors often seem to be skillfully responding to improv switcheroos. Helming is equally erratic. Tech credits are OK.