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LOVERBOY

Australia, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Geoffrey Wright

In the fine Australian tradition of Love Letters From Teralba Road and Backroads, Lover Boy is a powerful short-feature that runs not a second too long or too little. By any standards this is an impressive debut for another Swinburne graduate, Geoff Wright. At sixty minutes in length it is (technically speaking) classified as a short, but as befits its style and concerns, consider it a feature.

A minutely observed naturalistic drama set in Melbourne's inner-western suburbs, Lover Boy evokes the boredom and aimlessness of two very different generations. In a curious touch that further emphasises the films very specific setting, the story is located amidst a community of English migrant families, as represented by 16 year old Mick (Noah Taylor) and his mother's friend, a 43 year old woman named Sally, as played by Gillian Jones. Volunteered by his mother to mow Sally's lawn, they soon become lovers, each drawn by very different attractions.

Writer/director Wright contrasts Mick's character when around Sally, with his behaviour when with his teenage friends, drawing a very precise picture of Mick's adolescent world, however it's in the well written and sensitively played scenes between Mick and Sally that the films strength really lies. With remarkable economy, Gillian Jones (an especially fine Australian actor whose best work has been confined to the stage) conveys the desperate loneliness of a woman whose life has slipped past her unchecked.

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