Writer & Director / Ben Elton (MAYBE BABY)
Stars/ Rebecca Breeds, Robert Sheehan, John Waters, Kelton Pell, Magda Szubanski, Michael Caton, Kate Box and Deborah Mailman
Like fellow Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) release ALI’S WEDDING, THREE SUMMERS also has some important social issues it wishes to address during its comedic reception. Internationally known writer and director Ben Elton’s first Australian movie is definitely aiming to attract the same crowd that flocked to see the Aussie-made Muslim Rom-Com. Unlike ALI’S WEDDING, however, those social issues are integrated in a much less subtle manner, bound to be either loved or loathed.
Based on the real-life Fairbridge Music Festival in Western Australia, the Westival attracts several amateur and international artists as well as boasting much-loved local talents annually each summer. When one of those locals, a 26 year-old folk-music singer, tap-dancing violinist (played by Home and Away’s Rebecca Breeds) meets an Irish folk-music hating theremin player (Robert Sheehan from GEOSTORM, THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES), a heated and often awkward romance bonded by music begins to form.
The undeniable chemistry shared by THREE SUMMERS’ two lead actors and one movie-star making performance from Rebecca Breeds is enough to keep this scattered comedy in season, despite lacking polish and not quite fully blooming.
They are the core of a story in an ensemble film that features quite a number of side acts and sporadic contributors, all performed by a vast array of home-grown stars. Though THREE SUMMERS never amalgamates its various performers seamlessly into one movie, with execution in timing and uneven editing mostly the cause for this, most of its juggling acts do work as intended. One of the characters audiences will more strongly embrace is the grandfather played by Michael Caton. His character’s purpose is mightily foreseeable, but his interactions with an outspoken indigenous performer (Kelton Pell) and his granddaughter (feature film debutant Nichola Balestri, who can slightly resemble American actress Elle Fanning) builds a solid sub-plot. Another character that will give THREE SUMMERS’ viewers occasional hearty laughter is Kate Box’s (TV series Rake) over-zealous security guard. Especially when she faces off against Jacqueline McKenzie’s snobby, snooty character. But don’t expect to see much of McKenzie, who has just a few scenes despite her name appearing on the movie poster. My personal favourite belongs to the wannabe girl rock band and what transpires from the first summer shown to the last. It’s a hoot! Deborah Mailman and John Waters add separate and minor stories via their characters that are usually less humourous and predictably meet-up while Magda Szubanski’s community radio host is sassy yet falls victim to the sloppy editing a few too many times. And the character that audiences will be most divided upon is the one portrayed by well-known (in WA) stage actress Adriane Daff. Her alternate (and indisputably truthful) renditions of some classic Australian songs is too blunt for the mainstream in an otherwise cheerful film. But wait, where’s Bryan Brown!? You can’t make an ensemble Aussie movie without him! C’mon!
Viewer Discretion/ M (Coarse language)
Trailer / THREE SUMMERS
Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the invite to the screening of this film.
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