Handsome but meandering film, best suited to the fest circuit's appetite for underdeveloped fare.

An expatriot musician returns to rural Australia to grieve her dead father in the slight, earnest Australian meller “Summer Coda.” Local thesp Rachael Taylor (“Transformers”) struggles to win sympathy as a self-pitying waif in this handsome but meandering film, best suited to the fest circuit’s appetite for underdeveloped fare. Pic, which bowed at the Melbourne fest in August is due to unspool in Oz in October.

Nevada-based violinist Heidi (Taylor) makes an odyssey to Oz’s citrus farming district to attend her estranged father’s funeral. Hitchhiking from Melbourne to Mildura, she encounters rugged but tender farmer Michael (Alex Dimitriades). The emotionally timid pair embark on a cautious friendship while summoning the courage for romance. Soapy subplots and emotional obstacles , rather than being teased out dramatically, are left to the chorus-like mutterings of an unconvincing supporting cast. Taylor fails to convince, but Dimitriades imbues his role with a sense of real life. Debuting helmer Richard Gray concentrates on interesting objects and spectacular scenery to compensate for his flat script. Greg De Marigny’s warm and welcoming HD lensing delights in the splendors of Australia’s orange groves. Tech credits are top-quality.

Summer Coda

Australia

Production

A Jump Street Films, Sharmill Films release of a Jump Street Films, Sharmill Films in association with Film Victoria presentation of a Revival Film Co. production. (International sales: Sharmill Films, Melbourne.) Produced by John Finemore, Marc Goldenfein, Richard Gray. Executive producers, James Hoppe, Bryce Menzies, Natalie Miller. Directed, written by Richard Gray.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, HD), Greg De Marigny; editor, Gary Woodyard; music, Alies Sluiter; production designer, Emma Fletcher. Reviewed at Paramount Theatrette, Sydney, Aug. 9, 2010. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Rachael Taylor, Alex Dimitriades, Susie Porter, Nathan Philips, Cassandra McGrath, Angus Sampson, Jacki Weaver. (English dialogue)
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