Worth A Look: 24.08%
Pretty Bad: 2.86%
Total Crap: 13.47%
5 reviews, 215 user ratings
|Looking for Alibrandi
by Dust For Eyes
Meeting Alibrandi joins that long line of teen films. The teen film line is a very long and rather lumpy line, but the vibrant Alibrandi is one of the best.When weighing up US teen films versus Australian teen films, which comes out on top? The US could be seen as coming out on top purely by sheer weight of numbers. Yet looking at the best Australian teen films you see not just the best of the genre, but the best that Australia has produced of any genre.
"Up there with the best teen film ever made"
The Australian teen films are superior.
That lofty, biased, ill-considered, rash, opinion is pretty much down to Noah Taylor.
Known best as the young David Helfgott in Shine, his trio of films The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting, (both directed by John Duigan) and The Nostradamus Kid were heart-breakingly wonderful and are up there with the best Australian film has produced.
You may offer John Hughes' 80s films, or Election, Heathers or something else no-one even remembers, but these films are nowhere near the heights of the Australian trio of films.
The excellent standard continues with Looking For Alibrandi.
Josie Alibrandi (Miranda) is in her final year in high school and is determined to make a good fist of it so she can study law. Apart from worrying about her future and how to handle the resident school bitch Carly (Leeanna Walsman), she has her eyes set on John Barton (Newton), school captain of an exclusive private boys school. That's until wrong-side-of-the-tracks Jacob (Gurry) - another school captain - turns up and attempts to woo Josie.
If that wasn't enough, Josie - living with her single mother - has to deal with her Italian heritage. It comes mainly in the form of her grand mother (Cotta) and Josie doesn't quite fit in. Then there is the secret of the identity of her father.
This energetic, smart and sassy film is in danger of being swamped by Gladiator - suffering from the probably unwise decision to release it on the same day as the Russell Crowe epic chest beater. That would be a shame as Alibrandi is superior in many ways.
Firstly the story is fresh and vibrant and the characters are far more layered, tangible and real. Although not without her frustrations, and uncertainties, Josie is street wise, smart and confident. It's no wonder that the book the film is based on is so popular with schoolgirls. Miranda does a top class job in not only playing this tricky character but also in being the backbone of the entire film - not bad for her feature debut. The way she seems to be a different person as she swings from mood to mood is fantastic.
Woods draws out excellent performances from Scacchi and LaPaglia and special mention should go to Italian actress Cotta who, despite most of her dialogue being in English, can't speak a word of it herself - she learnt it phonetically. She is superb as Josie's frustrating grand mother with secrets of her own.
First time director, Woods has the film at a quick pace with generous helpings of humour and drama. The film is mostly visually simple, yet there are some colourful dynamic sequences and the shift from comedy to drama is handled expertly.
The film strides along pleasantly enough, but then it rips and leaves you quite moved. The emotional depth of this film is quite extraordinary and is a huge credit to the novel and scriptwriter Melina Marchetta.
Unlike US teen films that seem to think that teenagers think of sex and nothing else what so ever, Looking For Alibrandi provides a full range of issues that are on teenager's minds - including one that adults are afraid just to mention. We should praise Woods and Marchetta to deal with this difficult issue. You'll have to watch the film to see what issue I'm talking about.Watch the US teen films and Gladiator if you must, but also see Looking For Alibrandi for a fun, sad, fulfilling, and totally satisfying film.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4339&reviewer=166
originally posted: 05/09/00 09:39:54
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