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Deeper than Blue
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Stephen Groenewegen

"Failing to connect"
3 stars

Deeper than Blue is an ultra low-budget Australian feature, and the debut of writer-director Sandra Sciberras. It also has the distinction of being the first DVD-projected feature ever screened at the Sydney Film Festival.

There are three plot strands – a mystery, comedy and love story. A crashed car is discovered in the bush, the driver dead at the wheel. Staggering from the boot, gagged and bound, is an 11 year-old boy with no memory of who he is or what happened. At the hospital, he’s cared for by a nurse, Rose (Genevieve Picot). Recently turned forty, Rose is grieving the death of her mother and coping with a senile, obstreperous father, George (Bruce Myles). George’s temper isn’t helped by the constant presence of the ghosts of his dead wife and her first husband. Mark (Colin Friels) is the divorced and disillusioned detective investigating the boy’s case. He and Rose meet at the hospital and are immediately attracted to each other.

The love story is the most successful. Mark and Rose chose their respective careers to help people, but have begun to question their ability to care. Picot and Friels are terrific together, and really seem to care about these characters. Picot can sometimes be a harsh presence on screen, but even when she’s losing her temper at George, she’s world-weary and frustrated rather than distant or cold.

Unfortunately, the three plots fail to satisfactorily connect. The resolution of the boy’s situation – which has brought Mark and Rose together – should form the film’s climax, but it’s haphazardly explained in a flashback. I was left confused as to who exactly kidnapped him and why and, subsequently, what the film was really about.

George’s ghostly visitations provide comedy, but they also overbalance the film. George has little impact on either of the main stories – he has nothing to do with the boy, and Mark and Rose would have met at the hospital without him. He should be a secondary character, but takes up far too much screen time. The slightly over-the-top scenes of George and his ghosts detract from the more naturalistic sequences. Their inclusion is over-ambitious – it’s surely challenge enough to tell a credible mystery story and set up a compelling romance.

Nevertheless, Sciberras pays creditable attention to establishing believable support characters, like Rose’s work colleagues and Mark’s family. She shows an encouraging flair for character-based drama and, with a slightly larger budget, her next feature should be something to look for.

Sciberras and her producer are applying for funding to smooth the rough edges of Deeper than Blue, and then plan to distribute it themselves. It will hopefully have its first commercial screenings in Melbourne in November.

If the 50th Sydney Film Festival were a restaurant, Deeper than Blue is the embryonic dish of a promising new chef.

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originally posted: 06/09/03 11:54:06
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/17/04 rita rose wonderful film...small but sweet 4 stars
12/26/03 joey the best film eva 5 stars
11/21/03 john scott lovely, remarkable for its budget 4 stars
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Directed by
  Sandra Sciberras

Written by
  Sandra Sciberras

  Colin Friels
  Geneviève Picot
  Bruce Myles

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