Summary: A black comedy set during the aftermath of the Cronulla riots, it is the story of two carloads of hotheads from both sides of the fight destined to collide.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 11th August 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Abe Forsythe
Screenwriter: Abe Forsythe
Cast: Fayssal Bazzi (D-Mac), Josef Ber (Sgt.Bryce Halliday), Chris Bunton (Evan), Ruby Burke (Destiny), Suppakorn Chuwongwut (Nutt), Arka Das (Steve), Michael Denkha (Ibrahim), Harriet Dyer (Stacey), Alexander England (Shit-Stick), David Field (Vic), Damon Herriman (Jason), Josh McConville (Gav), Marshall Napier (Graham), Henry Nixon (Sgt. James McFadden), Julia Ohannessian (Rashida), Lap Phan (Terry), Robert Rabiah (Amir), Rahel Romahn (Nick), Justin Rosniak (Ditch), Anthony Taufa (Taufa), Christiaan Van Vurren (Doof), Lincoln Younes (Hassim), Dylan Young (Az)
Runtime: 90 mins
OUR DOWN UNDER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Sometimes the best comedy is the darkest. In Duck Soup, The Marx Brothers’ led Freedonia into a good old fashioned knees up to celebrate the oncoming war that will swamp the country. The terrorists in Chris Morris’ Four Lions are shown to be petty, back stabbers that argue about Mini-Babybels and struggle to align their separate ideologies. And now we have Abe Forsyth’s Down Under, a violent, gut-bursting farce set against the backdrop of the Cronulla Riots.
We follow two separate groups of men chomping at the bit to get into a boot party. In the Cronulla corner, we have family man Jason (Damon Herriman) and Ned Kelly’s biggest fan Ditch (Justin Rosniak) on the prowl for anyone looking vaguely middle eastern. And vague is the operative word, as at one point it becomes apparent that they’re not even sure who they’re really after. To bulk up their numbers, they drag along dope head Shit-Stick (Alexander England) who would rather watchLord of the Rings with his cousin from Nimbi, Evan (Chris Bunton)
Playing for the Sydney West team is the fiery Nick (Rahel Romahn), insufferable beat-boxer D-Mac (Fayssal Bazzi) and deeply religious Ibrahim (Michael Denkha). Tagging along with them is Hassim (Lincoln Younes), whose brother went missing the day the riots started.
Neither group is treated as the heroes of Down Under. Instead Forsythe highlights how their need to bash people because of a perceived difference really comes from the same misguided rage. And in the film, as in real life, this rage only begets more rage until no one is listening to anyone. It’s interesting to note that the director never allows the violence committed by the men to be diluted by the comedy. Each punch and bat swung connects viciously, there’s consequences to what they deal out. Instead, he bursts their bubbles by highlighting their naivety and hypocrisy, such as when Jason takes a break from bashing to get his pregnant girlfriend a kebab, or when Nick’s bravado reveals a violent resentment of immigrants. Other times, Forsythe soundtracks his characters’ actions to inappropriate pop songs from the era, including a rather wonderful rendition of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn.
Where Down Under falls flat, at least for me, is Nick and Hassim’s interactions with drug dealer, Vic (David Field). Vic’s lascivious advances towards Hassim whilst surrounded by well-oiled, well-muscled young men feels trite and, in a film that lampoons stereotypes, feels, well, stereotypical. Because despite how the film’s trailer portrays them, these aren’t stupid men. Sure they say stupid things, but they’re clearly caught up in the chest beating and hubris that’s permeating in the streets. One of Jason’s team is revealed to have a white collar job, whilst Hassim is shown from the off-set to be studying for uni. These are not all thick men, and that’s what makes them scary. They’ve found an opportunity to release they deep-rooted beliefs.
With an ending that will pull the rug from under you, Down Under exposes the underbelly and idiocy of racism through laughter, violence, copious amounts of swearing and B*Witched songs. Sure to be controversial, you need to see it.