A tremendously engaging lowbudget first feature by 23-year-old Emma-Kate Croghan, Love and Other Catastrophes is a fast, funny excursion into the world of college students in the mid-’90s, boosted by a terrific ensemble of five engaging young thesps.
Croghan, a former film school student, is keenly aware of the ups and downs of contempo life on a college campus, and is totally unself-conscious in her depiction of her often confused and lovesick characters. Visually, pic is rough at the edges and looks as though it was made on the run, but it makes up in sheer likability what it lacks in production values.
Alice (Alice Garner) and Mia (Frances O’Connor) are film school students who have just moved into a new apartment. Mia’s girlfriend, Danni (Radha Mitchell), is a bit miffed that the independent-minded Mia doesn’t want her to move into the pad. Meanwhile, sensitive, straight Michael (Matt Day), a med student, is frantically trying to find a new place to stay.
Alice is the romantic type. She has her eye on spunky Ari (Matthew Dyktynski), a classics student who earns money on the side by servicing rich, bored women. Mia, meanwhile, wants to switch to a trendier course run by real-life Melbourne critic Adrian Martin. To add to Mia’s woes, the offended Danni has taken up with another woman, the seriously uncommunicative Savita (Suzi Dougherty).
These events unfold in a tight, 24-hour time frame, culminating in a house-warming party at the girls’ new apartment.
Pic is punctuated with quotes from such disparate sources as Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Alfred Hitchcock, Doris Day and the Bee Gees. Acknowledgement is also made of the influence Quentin Tarantino has over the students.