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Total Crap: 13.33%

1 review, 9 user ratings

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by Trevor Gensch

"Impossible to put down"
5 stars

A quick look at Director Kieran Galvin's personal website reveals a film-maker who has done the hard slog for over six years. That on its own might not be particularly impressive but when you also take into account that his short films were largely self-funded, and relied heavily on the generosity and support of the film community for their realisation, the results are that much more impressive.

He's been quietly creating short films all shaped to his own unique world-view; whether they be the cries of unheard youth, the gritty struggles of the ordinary person, or confronting racism and bigotry, Galvin's short films have always taken a somewhat slanted but still familiar look at what makes us all tick.

It's this sensibility that carries over to his first feature film, Puppy. Starring emerging young actors Nadia Townsend and Bernard Curry, Puppy is an enthralling but sometimes scary look at one of the most common emotions - love. But in the hands of Galvin the viewer is assured something quite special.

It's a bizarre tale of obsession and love in its most twisted form. Rescued during a suicide attempt, Lizzie (Townsend) is taken back to the home of Aiden (Curry), a confused young man who thinks that she is his wife, who left him.

So overjoyed that his wife is now back with him, wants to make sure she never leaves him again. So he ties her up.

And so begins the main story of Puppy, part thriller, part escape drama, but mostly a story about love, but just not in a form you may have seen it before.

It's a confident first feature, with beautiful Victorian wine country visuals set against the harsh bleak cityscapes of inner-city Melbourne. Galvin makes the viewer work for the meaning in his films, and even when you think you have figured it out he gives you something else to challenge your perceptions.

To delve too far into plot descriptions and explanations would be to ruin one of the main attractions of this film. We are ostensibly presented with a typical captive/victim drama, with Aiden, acting erratic and disturbed as a result of taking his medication, keeps young Lizzie a prisoner. But as the film progresses there turns out to be a lot more which was just bubbling below the surface. A masterful use of the subtle and complex emotional state between the two gradually reaching a climax and it all takes on a very different complexity.

Curry and Townsend provide fantastic performances, in what is essentially a two-hander film. There is barely a scene in Puppy that Townsend doesn't feature in. That she is able to carry the film as a result is a remarkable testament to her abilities as an actress. Curry is also mesmerising to watch as the befuddled Aiden, his transformation from the dominant master of the household to subservient slave is a joy to watch.

To be honest, there isn't much of a story to Puppy, but that really isn't the point; it's about the journey the characters take more than any over-riding need for a fully flowing narrative.

As with his short films, Puppy is largely funded from money gathered by the production team, rather than relying solely on the usual government handout. Free from the often stifling strangehold of having to please the men in suits, the film rejoices in its independent-ness by taking us on a wonderful journey.

These are the sorts of films that the funding bodies should be sitting up and taking notice of. Instead they are content to sit back and churn out another Jimeon laughless comedy or get some idiot from a noodles commercial to helm a multi-million dollar production.

But as long as there are directors like Kieran Galvin out there, perhaps the role of the funding body is becoming more irrelevant with each passing moment.

It's also a crying shame that this film has not been picked up for Australian distribution yet; the screening I saw at the Brisbane Film Festival seemingly the only chance for domestic audiences to check out one of the most challenging and through provoking Australian films of 2005. Go out and see it. When that will be of course is a different matter.

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originally posted: 08/31/05 17:30:16
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For more in the Australian series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/09/12 Ed Oh my god, the acting, the scenery, it's so bad, I would compare this movie to "the room" 1 stars
10/24/10 Liz This is a completely unpredictable movie! 5 stars
1/10/09 Pippy Engaging and unforgettable 5 stars
10/22/08 Allan Bringest Absolutely Fantastic 5 stars
2/24/08 Tom This is a big fat pile of tosh 1 stars
10/23/06 Tanya H Saw this at the London Australian Film Festival. A refreshing take on love. 4 stars
8/08/05 Angela Hoffer I was sooo relieved to see a good Aussie Film for a change 5 stars
8/05/05 Jason R The best Australian film I've seen in years. Very brave, funny and absorbing 5 stars
8/03/05 Jeremy Ancort Saw this at BIFF, wonderful aussie debut feature. Off the wall sensibilities! Loved it! 5 stars
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Directed by
  Kieran Galvin

Written by
  Kieran Galvin

  Nadia Townsend
  Susan Ellis
  Bernard Curry
  Zac Richmond

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