Like naive art, “Orange Love Story” is flawed by conventional standards yet manages to connect on a primary emotional level. Experimental slice-of-life drama, cast entirely with non-professionals, is the passion project of noted Australian cinematographer Tom Cowan, helming his first feature since “Sweet Dreamers” (1982). Following rural roadshow engagements after its warm reception at the Melbourne fest, pic is slated for limited urban release in September. Requiring audiences to embrace its community-project philosophy, the film won’t travel much outside local orbit but could intrigue some fest programmers.
Five stories about people living in and around the central New South Wales town of Orange are interwoven, with single mom Jill (Kay Nankervis) and troublesome teen daughter Bianca (Ellen Rossi) figuring most prominently. All touch on social and economic issues affecting country people and are sincerely performed by cast members, whose personal stories formed the basis of the screenplay. While thesping is occasionally awful, honest scripting and overall integrity of the film’s ambitions generate warmth for the characters and involvement in criss-crossing storylines. Shot on tape, feature is technically pro, with elegant pastoral compositions of co-lensers Hugh Miller and Murray Lui.