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The Custodian

Stateside audiences may be intrigued at prospect of seeing streetwise Anthony LaPaglia return to his Australian roots, but uneven film about police corruption Down Under gives him the least interesting role in the picture. Theatrical prospects look limited, but LaPaglia's presence insures ancillary afterlife.

Stateside audiences may be intrigued at prospect of seeing streetwise Anthony LaPaglia return to his Australian roots, but uneven film about police corruption Down Under gives him the least interesting role in the picture. Theatrical prospects look limited, but LaPaglia’s presence insures ancillary afterlife.

LaPaglia usually scores in easygoing roles on either side of the law, but his character here, Quinlan, is offputtingly uptight. At the outset, Quinlan is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, his marriage has disintegrated, and he’s realized that virtually everyone in the police department is on the take, including his partner.

Quinlan decides to go on the take himself to get the evidence to break the ring of corruption. He anonymously tips off a TV reporter (Kelly Dingwall), who brings in an honest lawyer on the force (Barry Otto).

Dingwall and Otto are the ones who get to emote here, with both of their characters clearly out of their depth trying to police the police. They score in roles that are much more interesting than the remote Quinlan. Indeed, LaPaglia disappears for a good portion of the film, reduced largely to a distorted voice on the phone pulling the strings to keep them on track.

Newcomer Essie Davis manages to invest the thankless role of Quinlan’s love interest with some intelligence and independence.

Director-writer John Dingwall (father of actress Kelly Dingwall) handles suspense scenes with aplomb, but is a little slow setting story in motion. Extended scenes are devoted to breakup of Quinlan’s marriage and his session with police shrink, yet neither has any real impact on the story. He also favors dramatic lighting, often used to good effect, and stylized soundtrack, which gets distracting.

The Custodian

(AUSTRALIAN)

  • Production: A Beyond Films Ltd. release of a J D Prods. and John Dingwall presentation. Produced by Adrienne Read. Executive producers, Gary Hamilton, Mikael Borglund. Directed, written by Dingwall.
  • Crew: Camera (color) Steve Mason; editor, Michael Honey; music, Phillip Houghton; production design, Philip Warner; art direction, Ian Gracie; set decoration, Kerrie Brown, Alky Avramides; costume design, Terry Ryan; sound (Dolby), Ben Osmo; assistant director, Adrian Pickersgill; second unit camera, Simon Smith; casting, Alison Barrett. Reviewed at Loews Copley Place, Boston, Sept. 15, 1993. (In the Boston Film Festival.) Running time: 109 MIN.
  • With: Quinlan ... Anthony LaPaglia Church ... Hugo Weaving Ferguson ... Barry Otto Reynolds ... Kelly Dingwall Jilly ... Essie Davis Josie ... Gosia Dobrowolska Managing Director ... Bill Hunter
  • Music By: