(Dir. Rolf de Heer)(2003)
A remarkable film, though hard to watch at times. Its creepy, claustrophobic plot device is so potent that it has been widely parodied: Alpha Male Gary Sweet has had a few beers at the office on his birthday and slides home (he lives in an attractively sinister cul-de-sac) to find that his put-upon wife (Helen Buday) has arranged a birthday surprise.
From the moment Gary settles in to watch the video Mrs Gary has assembled to catalogue his various faults, we can quickly conclude that this couple makes George and Martha seem like Mike and Carol Brady.
An intriguing but fanciful premise is given verisimilitude by being filmed in a stark and matter-of-fact, almost routine way, but fundamentally the film succeeds due to two extraordinary performances. Buday’s damaged wife is a bland zealot. Sweet evokes an average man who could descend to the coarse and brutish, a startling performance that almost overcomes the film’s central weakness, the disproportionate nature of the revenge.
TVC saw this in a freezing cold and uncomfortable cinema; hard wooden seats. Afterwards, we were so emotionally drained that whisky was needed. Gary Sweet is a true gentleman and a good Glenelg FC man (the only person to give a speech to Glenelg Vice Presidents in which he quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald) and just doesn’t deserve what he receives here!
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