So how do you review an Australian film? Well, first you look on the bright side… The team who brought us the off-beat gems Malcolm, The Big Steal and most recently Mr Reliable have ventured into strange territory with their latest outing. Amy is neither a kids flick nor what you would describe as adult
entertainment.The protagonist is an eight year old girl named Amy who refuses to hear or speak. Through flashback we discover that her father was a popular rock star (played by real life rocker and former Reptile, Nick Barker in his acting debut) who is strangely absent in her current life.
Hanging out in the outback with her bitter mum Tanya (Griffiths), their life is threatened when Family Welfare arrive on the property. The pair escape just in time, hopping on the next bus and establishing a new life in a working class Melbourne suburb.
Tanya must now look for work, leaving Amy in the house alone. Her loneliness leads her to neighbour Robert (Mendelsohn), an aspiring musician whose compositions inspire Amy to sing. And the rest, as can be expected, is bittersweet history…
Griffiths and Mendelsohn are both excellent. To Tass' credit, you never suspect that they're going to end up as love interests, and the sentimentality which could have seeped into Tanya's single mother and Robert's struggling musician stories is left to a minimum.
Mendelsohn's Idiot Box co-star Susie Porter is a hoot, Kerry Armstrong and William Zappa are levelling as a fighting married couple, Frank Gallacher (Proof) as Amy's Scottish accented doctor is endearing, Kim Gyngell is telling as a musician, and even Barker, who contributes all of the original songs to the soundtrack is quite engaging, and in one scene, he's literally electric… Now, let's look on the dark side…
Newcomer De Roma puts in a very mannered performance in the title role. Although she's in nearly every scene, it's hard to identify with her, and when she finally sings, however beautiful, her voice feels fake (maybe that has something to do with the bad dubbing).
Another major flaw is the film's insistence on throwing in lovable weirdos. There's the grumpy old woman who habitually hoses down the street, the two stupid mechanics who can't get a car started, or the cops who serenade Amy to prove that she can talk.Amy is not a groundbreaking films by any means. But its portrait of Melbourne and Australian battlers sure beats the myriad of mindless Hollywood blockbusters we're treated to today. ---Jimmie Reardon