Three Blind Mice

An undisciplined yarn about three Sydney sailors about to sail for Iraq, "Three Blind Mice" gets caught in the trap of its John Cassavetes-like aspirations.

With:
With: Matthew Newton, Toby Schmitz, Ewen Leslie, Tina Bursill, Brendan Cowell, Alex Dimitriades, Bob Franklin, Marcus Graham, Jody Kennedy, Pia Miranda, Heather Mitchell, Barry Otto, Jackie Weaver, Charles "Bud" Tingwell.

An undisciplined yarn about three Sydney sailors about to sail for Iraq, “Three Blind Mice” gets caught in the trap of its John Cassavetes-like aspirations. Using “Husbands” and also Hal Ashby’s “The Last Detail” as touchstones, this sophomore directing stint by thesp Matthew Newton (2004’s “Right Here Right Now”) is a series of awkwardly navigated setpieces buoyed by occasionally dazzling perfs (especially by Newton himself) from local names. Commercial release will make some small waves in Oz, but international auds are more likely to jump ship.

Sailors Sam (Ewen Leslie), Dean (Toby Schmitz) and Harry (Newton) want to celebrate before they set sail on the HMAS Dignity. Slick Harry orders hotel-room hookers as compensation for dull Sam, who is involved in a military scandal that leads to a sea of troubles later. Misogyny and racism are played for dark laughs, but despite a last-minute nod to “The Caine Mutiny,” pic lacks the moral center needed to justify its tone of juvenile outrageousness. Other than the superb Jackie Weaver as Sam’s mother, the actors often seem to be skillfully responding to improv switcheroos. Helming is equally erratic. Tech credits are OK.

Three Blind Mice

Australia

Production: A Dirty Rat Films production, in association with Odin's Eye Entertainment. (International sales: Odin's Eye, Sydney.) Produced by Ben Davis. Executive producers, Michael Favelle, Ben Ferris. Co-producer, Caitlin Stanton. Directed, written by Matthew Newton.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Hugh Miller; editor, Gracie Otto; music, John Foreman; production designer, Paul Finch. Reviewed at Sydney Film Festival (competing), June 8, 2008. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: Matthew Newton, Toby Schmitz, Ewen Leslie, Tina Bursill, Brendan Cowell, Alex Dimitriades, Bob Franklin, Marcus Graham, Jody Kennedy, Pia Miranda, Heather Mitchell, Barry Otto, Jackie Weaver, Charles "Bud" Tingwell.

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