Beyond belief

Issue 

Back of Beyond
Directed by Michael Robertson
Starring Paul Mercurio and Colin Friels
Screening at Hoyts cinemas
Reviewed by Margaret Allan
The promotional material for this film promises, "Back of Beyond — a journey you never imagined". Quite frankly it was a journey I wish I had never experienced. After the said journey I was left with the distinct impression that it was more a vehicle for Paul Mercurio to strut around wearing a tight T-shirt and overalls and occasionally a leather jacket, than a contribution to quality Australian film production. Unless you are into tacky '50s-style, B-grade movies with corny lines that make you wince and acting that makes you cringe, don't bother with Back of Beyond. Set in the rugged Australian outback, this is the story of Tom (Mercurio) who returns to his family's remote service station in an attempt to come to terms with his part in the death of his younger sister from a motorcycle accident. While Tom is there several visitors pass through, and the film revolves around the relationships between him and them, and between the travellers themselves. Among the travellers is an Aboriginal man, Gilbert (Bob Maza), stereotyped as the "wise native", who shows his grandchildren the beauty and secrets of the land. Terry Serio, real-life musician, plays Lucky, who is riding on the success of his one big rock hit. He has a larger-than-life personality and a care-free philosophy that could really annoy if he played a larger part. Mercifully, this wasn't the case. Charlie (Dee Smart), Connor (Colin Friels) and Nick (John Polson — recently seen in The Sum of Us — are a trio who have stolen some diamonds and have to rendezvous with a mysterious man to get the loot. Charlie is the love interest of the film, and tension develops between Connor and Tom as they both attempt to win her heart. She is portrayed as pretty but helpless, scatty but with an endearing charm, who swans around the outback looking pathetic. This is not a strong female movie role. Rebekah Elmaloglou is probably the only actor who seems natural as the spirit/ghost of Susan, Tom's dead sister, although it is hard to take anyone seriously who appeared for years on Home and Away. This film is very poorly acted. However, it is difficult to know what could have been done with an embarrassingly bad script containing serious lines which were never meant to be amusing, but are. Back of Beyond ends with a twist which doesn't really work, and almost seems tacked on as an afterthought. I spent quite a while trying to come up with something positive to say about this film. The outback scenery was picturesque — there, I did it.