One Perfect Day

Reviewed By Stephen Groenewegen
Posted 02/29/04 11:08:44

3 stars (Average)

Like Moulin Rouge!, One Perfect Day is an ambitious Australian adaptation of the Orpheus and the Underworld myth in a musical setting.

Tommy Matisse (he’s an artist geddit?) is studying classical music in London. He is obsessed with incorporating everyday noise (“life’s symphony”) into an avant-garde opera. Think homeless people screaming at each other onstage against a backdrop of multi-layered natural sounds, all to a soothing piano accompaniment. Then Tommy’s sister (Abbie Cornish), whom he’s neglected, drops dead of a drug overdose whilst in the care of his girlfriend Alysse (Leanna Walsman). Tommy returns to Melbourne and follows his girlfriend and dead sister’s trail into the underground rave scene.

The best scenes of One Perfect Day revolve around music, partly because producers Phil Gregory and Paul Currie (who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Chip Richards) have assembled a world-class dance music soundtrack. It’s great to see an Australian film bursting with ambition and fresh, extravagant ideas. Unfortunately, an underdeveloped script fails to sufficiently execute these ideas. Catastrophic events overtake characters before we’ve had any chance to care for them. So the workings of the plot seem contrived and over-the-top. Important characters are fatally underwritten, particularly the villain of the piece, drug lord Hector (Andrew Howard).

Nathan Phillips proves himself an adept comic and brings surprising depths to his supporting role as a dim-witted dealer with feelings. Spielman and Walsman are attractive performers, but struggle to find any humour in their parts. There are terrific moments scattered throughout One Perfect Day - a euphoric beach party at dawn, Hector bashfully shaving his body hair in front of a mirror. Currie also shows real affinity with handling crowds – the rave scenes look refreshingly authentic.

One Perfect Day is an accomplished debut. With more work on the script, it could have dazzled.

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