Centered on the fractious relationship of a boozy father and the son he hasn’t seen for a decade, “Ten Empty” is a bleak encounter with emotionally dysfunctional suburban Aussie males. Local industry-anticipated helming debut of thesp Anthony Hayes sports fine perfs and opens promisingly before wearing itself out with unfocused storytelling and uninvolving central characters. With no clear-cut target audience, pic faces a tough task on July 3 domestic release. Internationally, scattered fest dates and ancillary appear the best bets.
After 10 years making money and developing refined tastes in Sydney, Elliot Christie (Daniel Frederiksen) returns to the suburban Adelaide home of Ross (Geoff Morrell), his bitter, borderline-alcoholic father. Occasion is the christening of his half-brother born to Diane (Lucy Bell), the sister of Ross’s late wife. Meanwhile, Elliot’s brother, Brett (Tom Budge), a former football star, has become a suicidal shut-in. Underlying causes of everyone’s misery are intriguing, but the play-out of inarticulate men struggling to express painful truths is overly theatrical and renders the main characters as increasingly distant objects. Gritty lensing by domestic drama ace Tristan Milani is the best asset of an efficient tech package.