Squarely aimed at the teen and early- to mid-20 youth audience, this brash, colorful, noisy item uses its inner-city locations, its talented (mostly) young cast, some vibrant music and the restricted timeframe of one hot summer Saturday night to good advantage. After a confusing opening, in which four groups of characters are briskly and too fleetingly introduced, pic settles down, more or less, and takes the viewer on an increasingly wild ride. Aussie films directed at the youth audience have not always hit the box office target, but with vigorous marketing, this should find its decidedly niche audience, with the strong possibility of overseas sales aimed at the same specific audience demographic. Ancillary looks to be very healthy for this combination of sex, drugs, violence and wild music.
Pic, by 27-year-old first-time director Clinton Smith, is set in a Sydney that visitors to the Olympics may want to avoid. Dashing around in back alleys and squalid apartments, participating in rave parties and dropping in on cheap fast-food joints, the adrenaline-charged protagonists are all looking for some kind of satisfaction, whether chemical, sexual or physical.
The multicultural cast, toplined by singing fave Kylie Minogue, skillfully portrays young people in an endless quest for self-gratification, no matter the cost.
TT (David Field), a powerful gangster and drug baron, is betrayed by his mistress, Jess (Minogue) and her boyfriend, Andy (Simon Lyndon); the lovers plan to rob TT of cash and drugs, but TT is on to them.
Meanwhile, Sem (Joel Edgerton), a struggling musician, has a premonition that his girlfriend, Cleo (Paula Arundel) is in danger; though both have been cheerfully sleeping around, Sem wants to make a new start far from the city. But Cleo is reluctant to leave, and Sem’s plans are complicated by John (Ben Mendelsohn), an androgynous stranger who leads them in entirely the wrong direction, literally as well as psychologically.
Then there’s Len (Nathan Page), a shy guy who works nights in a fast food-store owned by self-appointed philosopher, Phil (Ghandi MacIntyre); Len is besotted with Lush Puppy (Nathalie Roy), the lovely girl who runs a clothing store nearby and who works nights as DJ at the most popular dance club in the district. Len is trying to pluck up enough courage to ask Lush Puppy for a date.
Finally there’s Joey (Justin Rosniak), an unstable kid so affected by watching TV and movies that he’s started to act like a homeboy from the L.A. hood. His more prudent friend, Gus (Matthew Wilkinson), is troubled to discover that Joey, who is urgently in need of cash, is carrying a gun and probably intends to use it.
The paths of these disparate characters collide during the early hours of a sweltering Sunday morning in a small orgy of violence and mayhem, but prior to that, director Smith evocatively captures the nighttime club world and its denizens.
At one point, TT asserts: “I’m not sure what’s going on — I’m confused.” And, members of the audience not hip to the highly charged action may share that opinion. But there’s enough humor, energy and hedonism, as well as pounding music, to carry things along to the undoubted satisfaction of young audiences.
From a generally solid cast, Field stands out as the malevolent gang boss, while Mendelsohn creates a genuinely weird character of a spaced out, asexual mystery man with a nail protruding from his lower lip and a wafty outlook on the world. Arundel’s Cleo is also a substantial, if at times truly irritating, character.
Smith’s breathless direction is determined never to let up for a moment, and he’s ably assisted by David Foreman’s fluid camerawork and the pounding succession of songs on the busy soundtrack. All technical credits are highly professional, despite an obviously restricted budget. Though the Sydney setting is very specific, via opening helicopter shots of the city’s famous landmarks, vast bulk of the pic was actually shot in the South Australian city of Adelaide, with backing from that state’s Film Corp.