Flirting (1991)

A Caning for Love

Heavens be thanked for how Australians and New Zealanders have revived the acting element of film.

Everything in the country seems set up to produce performing artists, even talent writers that understand acting, where Brazil produces soccer players and the US lawyers.

Here you have three your actresses in essentially their first roles. Thandie Newton already at the peak of her screen charm, and Nicole Kidman and buddy Naomi Watts. Set in Australia, written and directed by an Australian, using what I have come to think of as the simple end of an Australian character spectrum.

This is a simple “coming of age” story. So simple, you begin with some trepidation. How many of these does one have to slog through to find something new? Well, there’s nothing new here, but it turns adult rather quickly toward the end and allows us to leave it without feeling cheap.

And isn’t that part of the skill of these things, to allow us to visit the insecurities of youth (which we probably still have) and to do so safely and finally to recall the experience fondly (so we will tell our friends to see this movie).

Nicole and Naomi aren’t any reason to see this. They’re simply standard props and rather far from the skills they’d develop. No, it is just the simple arc of the thing. No particular folding (as in “Sirens), no cheap titillation, just honest, innocent yearning in a hostile world. Hostile large and small.

Concerning the titillation, a key plot device revolves around our hero interceding to prevent a compromising photo from being taken. So, a negative fold, if you will, a deliberate statement of flatness. This is accentuated by frequent references to booknames that would be familiar to youngsters as “adult” (Sartre, Camus, Marx) and Sartre’s appearance at the boxing match where our hero gets pummelled.

Posted in 2006

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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