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BINGO, BRIDESMAIDS AND BRACES

Australia, 1988 (MIFF 1988, Documentary)

Director: Gillian Armstrong

Bingo, Bridesmaids and Braces represents the evolution of Gillian Armstrong's work begun with Smokes and Lollies 75 and later, Fourteen's Good, Eighteen's Better '80 Each work follows the lives of three women from Adelaide's working class suburbs, as they mature and gain their independence.

Unlike many documentaries based on the same concepts, (especially more famous examples from Britain) Bingo, Bridesmaids and Braces avoids the urge to make concrete certain theses of class structure, mobility and function As such, it is largely free of the more popular sociological formulations which arc generally thrust upon the subjects of such works. Armstrong is clearly more interested in the personal visions of the three women, from their aspirations as young girls, to their recurring desire to break away from their families and to establish families of their own While many of their dreams as children are realised, not quite in the manner they had hoped, (but then again, whose area) all three women are prepared to be quite philosophical about the substitution of one daily routine for another

The greatest strength of Bingo, Bridesmaids and Braces lies in its ability to do more than depict the highlights of suburban rites of passage, but to illuminate and explore the contours of the suburban landscape, at eye level and in the most direct manner But, there is no sense of false hope in all this The baby burden increases with each passing year, fitting sessions for wedding dresses bear remarkable similarity, hens nights and pranks do little to dispel the fear that these women, their husbands and their children do occupy a universe of curved space, ending where it all starts But in all this the film allows as much room for its viewers to move as it does its subjects - L N

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