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ROAD TO NHILL

Australia, 1997 (MIFF 1997)

Director: Sue Brooks

Australian films have been a highlight of the Festival of late. What seems to fascinate us most is hearing our own stories. Melbourne film­makers Sue Brooks, Alison Tilson and Sue Maslin will have you in fits of laughter with this astutely observed first feature, Road to Nhill. This accom­plished directorial debut, very much in the tradi­tion of the comedy of errors, is quintessentially Australian. For some of us it will be a scary trip down memory lane but then again, who could ever resist a nice cuppa coupled with a chunky slice of chocolate sponge?

Featuring an ensemble cast of our finest actors, including Bill Hunter, Lynette Curran, Patricia Kennedy and Alwyn Kurts, this charming yarn recounts the events that take place in a small country town when a car full of lady bowlers flips over. In true bush tradition, the incident soon becomes everybody's business - husbands, pig farmers, firemen, ambulance officers - the police officer's whereabouts, suspiciously, remain unknown. This becomes the means by which we are introduced to the intricate world of the characters who make up this sleepy town.

The Road to Nhill avoids the usual hick caricatures of country folk but it is fair to say that the men get the raw end of the deal. However, the film's tremendous warmth and affection for the characters, coupled with a frightening capacity to observe, helps us to laugh and love our idiosyncratic ways.

Road to Nhill has a sublime rhythm, is wonderfully scripted, acted and cast, but its other strength lies in its tremendous visual gags. This is not only an opportunity to be thoroughly entertained but to experience Philip Adams playing God. I suspect he didn't have to audition.

Sandra Sdraulig

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