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Finished People, The
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Guts, talent and compassion"
4 stars

Khoa Doís debut feature is unique amongst Australian films released during 2003. The Finished People is raw and unpolished and cast mostly with non-professionals but itís also politically relevant and it found an appreciative audience. Incredibly, for a micro-budget film about homeless youth, it played on single art house screens in Sydney and Melbourne for more than two months.

The film developed from ideas and people that Do encountered doing volunteer work at a Cabramatta welfare centre. The film follows three young men, adopting documentary-style voiceovers for added realism. Van (Joe Le) is Vietnamese, homeless and steals to survive. His veneer of fierce and defensive independence is challenged when he meets an open young woman (Daniela Italiano) with nothing to lose. Des (Rodney Anderson) is also homeless, and nearly killed when he tries to obtain work from a local gangster to support his pregnant girlfriend (Sarah Vongmany). Finally, Tommy (Jason McGoldrick) is struggling to kick a long-term heroin habit after his last girlfriend overdosed. He has one friend in the world (Mylinh Dinh), and she encourages him to look for a job.

The Finished People was made under unusually trying conditions, even for a micro-budget film. One actor had to report to a methadone clinic every few mornings, another to the police because he was on parole. Although there are some stilted performances and awkward moments, Do extracts mostly naturalistic portrayals from his non-professionals.

Although the subject matter is bleak, moments of human connection and compassion make The Finished People touching rather than unbearably depressing. It offers a fascinating on-the-ground look into a world thatís geographically close but light years away from most peopleís experience. As a strong and visible reminder of the plight of homeless youth in Australia, it also illuminates an issue that is not going to simply disappear because we ignore it.

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originally posted: 01/21/04 13:46:48
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User Comments

1/23/04 Adam Moving, courageous and very relevant. 4 stars
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