Saturday, April 28, 2007

Movie Review: Somersault

Have you ever known someone, who you just didn't "get" until after your friendship with them ended? The type of person who pissed you off and you can't stand to be around, but then you find yourself missing them when they're gone. That's the way the movie Somersault is. When Inky and I got it from Netflix the other day I was pretty excited because it was a big time award winner in Australia. The star, Abbie Cornish, is slated to be in the next Bond movie, and has been called "the next Sienna Miller." So we were ready to be blown away.

Then, we started watching the movie. It's about a 16 year old girl, Heidi, who is dealing with issues of her burgeoning sexuality, her need to be loved and telling the difference between the two. Heidi gets caught putting the moves on her mother's boyfriend and rather than deal with the fall out, she hits the road. She leaves Canberra for the ski resort town of Jindabyne in search of a boy who once gave her his number at the mall. Once she is blown off by this guy, she proceeds to have an anonymous sexual experience in an RV with a bloke on his way to Sydney.

Heidi life begins to normalize a bit when she manages to find a flat, a job and what would pass for a boyfriend in Joe, played by Sam Worthington. Joe has just as many issues as Heidi, and for a moment it looks like their two individual negatives will make a positive. But it's not in the cards. Worthington and Cornish do a great job of portraying an early 20's guy and a mid to late teens girl who are on poor footing in the world of love and sex. Things degenerate for Joe and Heidi and in the end Heidi if forced to make a choice in how to proceed with her life.

Heidi struggles in all aspects of interpersonal interaction, and Joe lacks the rudimentary knowledge of himself needed to know what to do next. The characters are odd, verging on dumb, but somehow likable. After finishing the movie I shoved it back into it's Netflix envelope without considering a second viewing and off it went. Now I am getting it back, because the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to take another look.

First time director Cate Shortland did a wonderful job making Somersault visually appealing right off the bat. She does a lot with colors, and extreme closeup shots that make you take notice, but it's her writing that has me coming back for another viewing. Her portrayal of regular events in an otherwise unspectacular life is refreshingly honest and real. So often we can become pre-programmed by the movie industry, told that the mundane doesn't make for a good backdrop for a story. But, that's just not true. And so, I'll wait until Wednesday or Thursday so I can take another look at Somersault, because it really stayed with me after I finished watching it. In this day and age that doesn't happen to me all too often, so when it does I take notice. I also say, that's good work out of Cate Shortland.

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