Cinema Review: The Flip Side

Do you remember the interview given by John Millman after he’d beaten Roger Federer at the US Open? Almost apologetic, it seemed quintessentially Australian in its cap-doffing modesty – which is a vaguely annoying trait of this rom-com’s protagonist. Ronnie (Emily Taheny) is going broke running her Adelaide restaurant and keeping up payments to her mother’s retirement village. Five years earlier, she was ready to fly to London with Henry (Eddie Izzard), an English movie star, but he dumped her at the last minute. Back in Oz promoting his latest flick, Henry looks up Ronnie, who is now happily ensconced with Jeff (Luke McKenzie), a clone of Brett from Kath and Kim. Will the sparks fly again? Complicating the issue for both of them is the presence of Henry’s French ‘manager’, Sophie (Vanessa Guide), a sex kitten who makes Ronnie look like the plainest of Plain Janes. This is the sort of local movie that you are happy to get on board with, only to find that it doesn’t quite take off. The dialogue is natural and well delivered but not sharp enough to get many laughs, the rhythm a little clunky and the set-ups contrived in a way that takes scant regard of plausibility (I couldn’t believe that Jeff would invite the celebrity couple to stay the night in the burbs – or that they would accept). Not helping in establishing the narrative’s necessary conflict are the portrayals of both Henry and Sophie. They are meant to be seen as patronising snobs who regard their hosts as hicks, but I liked both of them and felt at times that they would have been fully justified in not being over-impressed by Ronnie’s dowdiness (she is a tiger at the bowling alley, which seems way out of character) and Jeff’s gaucheness (his unpublished novel is ridiculous). Where writer/director Marion Pilowsky’s film succeeds is in the performances of her cast. They mix’n’match well, with Izzard convincing as the louche actor and Taheny the woman who wants more from life.

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