"Unusual people, bus in the Australian desert - Sound familiar?"
When you know some of the people behind the making of Siam Sunset, you will know what to expect from this entertaining, but light film.Siam is co-written by Andrew Knight who is the creator of some of the most successful comedy on Australian TV in recent times including Fast Forward / Full Frontal and SeaChange. There is Al Clarke, who produces Siam, who was also the producer of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as well as Nineteen Eighty-Four (now there's an odd paring). Most tellingly though is that it is directed by John Polson - the man behind Tropfest - the fun and popular, but ultimately rather light, short film festival in Sydney.
Looking at those names should tell you that they will make a fun film with comedy slightly on the dark shade, some unglamorous characters who are realistic in some respects yet totally absurd in others, plus . . . er, a big bus in the middle of Australia's outback.
And that is what you get with Siam Sunset.
Perry (Roache) an English industrial chemist for a paint company (he makes colours) has his life going just the way he wants it with his wife and work. This is turned completely upside down (or should I say crushed) after a freak accident and begins to feel that he is a curse for everything and everybody around him. From being happy and content, he is now a wreck. He wins a trip to Australia and uses that as a kick start to regaining some of that inner peace that he so dramatically lost. This is expressed in his search for a colour that he calls siam sunset.
He joins up with a bus tour in Adelaide and soon wishes he hadn't. Well, at least until he meets up with Grace (Cormack) who is on the run from her drug dealer boyfriend. Grace helps Perry find his siam sunset. The help partly involves some very dangerous sex (it involves a bed on the verge of collapse, a ceiling fan that is set to fall onto the bed, some dangerously protruding steel coat hooks, dodgy electrics and the world's most deadliest snake sleeping underneath the bed just for good measure - the sex scene had to be coordinated by the stunt people).
John Polson is unashamedly a populist as demonstrated in Tropfest and in the fact that this film won an audience award at Cannes. So with Siam he gives us an amusing and entertaining 90 minutes, but it by no means going to strike up post-film conversations on it's stunning originality or whether it's OK to have an open marriage.
This is Polson's feature directorial debut and he has relished the use of the wide screen format. He captures plenty of beauty of the Australian landscape.
Roache is suitably fish-out-of-water without slipping into English stereotypes. Cormack (who was in Topless Women Talk About Their Lives) as Grace is an enticing addition to the film and the rest of the cast are great fun to see.Siam includes the ingredients of recent successful Australian films - that is a good and bad thing at the same time, but if you enjoyed movies like Priscilla, and Muriel's Wedding then you should enjoy this - just don't expect it to change your life.