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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Cinema Review: Three Summers

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This film is as PC as you can get. It is as though writer/director Ben Elton has aimed solely to create a script that would best suck up to the holier than thou group-think of arts funding bodies in Oz. Contrary to what you might expect, however, the movie is also a buoyant, refreshing and plain-speaking boy-meets-girl love story with a terrific soundtrack and an admirable determination to not fall back (too often) on the ‘quirky character’ for its laughs.

Rebecca Breeds plays a feisty fiddler/singer in her father’s (John Waters) folk-rock band. They are regular performers at ‘Westival’ (somewhere near Perth), an annual gathering of musos, buskers and punters that is meant to be seen here as a microcosm of Australian society. A handsome Irish theremin player (Robert Sheehan) arrives in the first of the three years covered and, after initially not connecting, he and Breeds are drawn to each other. But it is elsewhere that Elton wants to push his political barrow, and if he is not in the least subtle in his approach, I for one was not put out by it. Australia’s hateful, racist treatment of refugees has seen our ‘fair go’ nation devolve to the point where we are now rightfully looked upon as a pariah state by the civilised world, so if agit-prop is the only way to shake the population from its blind-eyed apathy, then go for it Ben. The scene featuring an Afghani trio that has been released from detention for the day is genuinely moving, as is (and you won’t believe it, but it’s true), Michael Caton, in suit and tie, doing an indigenous emu dance. The stereotypes are all there – Kelton Pell as the blackfella demanding a treaty, Magda Szubanski as the dipsy announcer who is everyone’s friend, an over-zealous security guard, a couple of do-gooders who have adopted an Afghan son… but it is the romance between Breeds and Sheehan that wins the day.


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