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Friday, September 16, 2005

50 Ways Of Saying Fabulous

Programme: Visions
Director: Stewart Main
Country: New Zealand
Year: 2005
Language: English
Time: 90 minutes
Production Company: MF Films
Producer: Michele Fantl
Screenplay: Stewart Main, based on the novel by Graeme Aitken
Cinematography: Simon Raby
Editor: Peter Roberts
Production Designer: Ken Turner
Sound: Dick Reade
Music: Peter Scholes
Principal Cast: Andrew Paterson, Harriet Beattie, Jay Collins, Michael Dorman, Georgia McNeil, Rima Te Wiata

Billy (Andrew Paterson) is a chubby, girlish boy who would rather daydream about being Lana, the heroine of his favourite TV show, "Adventures in Space," than play rugby. His best friend - and complete opposite - is his cousin Lou (Harriet Beattie), who would rather be Brad, the show's rugged hero. Lou can't wait until the day when she can cut off her long hair - and Billy can't wait either: Lou's promised to give it to him, so he'll have a real ponytail, instead of having to pin a cow's tail inside his jaunty hat.

Such innocent ignorance is bliss, of course, but it doesn't last long. Billy and Lou become acutely aware that society at large frowns sternly upon messing around with gender roles, and it isn't long before Billy is labelled a "poofter." Naturally, none of the kids knows what a poofter is, though the meanest bully notes they are easy to identify: "They have fifty ways of saying 'fabulous.'" Billy's Aunt Evey (Rima Te Wiata) explains that the term describes "life's sensitive, artistic types - people who prefer culture to cows."

Euphemistic definitions aside, Billy is indeed engaging in furtive masturbatory encounters with Roy (Jay Collins), the very odd new boy in town, and when Billy falls head over heels for a hunky farmhand (Michael Dorman) - and so does Lou - things get rather complicated and even dark. For while much of the film is whimsical, it doesn't forget that childhood friendships can be rocked by raging torrents of adolescent hormones that arouse meanness, betrayal and the rawest jealousy.

The film's fluid camera movements - particularly its sudden snap zooms - make its mid-seventies setting all the more palpable, while its almost happy-go-lucky score - strangely reminiscent of Lassie - emphasizes in counterpoint the lackadaisical way we wander into adulthood, only to discover it is no place to be without our wits.

Director Stewart Main exhibits a gift for directing young actors and each of their performances is pitch-perfect, capturing all the gangliness of early adolescence. Against a remote, backwoods landscape, these charming, offbeat characters suffer remarkably familiar growing pains.

This was not a fabulous movie and I blame myself for having my expectations too high. I guess I was expecting more comedy and less angst. I’m not sold on the ending either… poor Roy, the outcast kid. He’s just screwed through the whole movie. While I was relatively sold on the Lou/Billy relationship, I guess I just have “what could have been” thoughts on the film. I could write a bunch about what elements were great and worked, but ultimately since I’m not recommending it – why bother. Okay, how about this? The scenery was great – shot in New Zealand. When the highlight of the movie is when the guy next to Greektown says “Oh SNAP” during a critical scene and sends us into paroxysm of laughter… yeah. And… I’m done.

Posted by Brown Eyed Girl :: 10:03 AM :: 0 Comments:

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