Fresh from chasing Linus Roache around the outback in Siam Sunset, Danielle Cormack (Topless Women Talk About Their Lives) stars as a woman whose brush with fame means great change for her family back home. Inspired by the media circus that surrounded equestrian Mark Todd, director Anthony McCarten wrote the highly successful stage play upon which he based this film. Carol (Cormack) is a champion swimmer who looks set to win Olympic gold. Much to her sister Chrissy's despair, back home in Wellington, a TV crew is setting up to link Carol, via satellite, with her family. Quite right too! Would you want to be beamed across the world from your mum's place?Sitting with your mum, your overbearing sister, her idiot husband, and another embarrassingly pregnant sister, with asparagus rolls and a sponge cake on the coffee table? All this while your twin bathes in Olympic glory? Probably not, but the rest of them do. Their determination drives Chrissy to the core of her suburban fear as embarrassment lurks around every corner. Like the one night stand who turns out to be the camera man. Oh how the crutch of adoption is so cruelly denied her.
Below a Castle-like suburban cringe lies a heart of pure paranoia, wonderfully exploited in McCarten's sharp writing: line's like "it's not purple paint, it's Blackberry Sorbet" abound. Think Mike Leigh. Blessed by exceptional production design and strong performances from Danielle Cormack, Karl Urban as her likeable stupid brother-in-law, and Brian Sergent as the overwhelmed unit director; McCarten has created a small yet sparkling gem of a film.The most recent in a flurry of activity across the Tasman, it proves that there's a bright future in New Zealand cinema should the government ever choose to fund it. ---Colin Fraser