It's Stan's 40th winter, and he hasn't yet achieved anything he can be proud of. He still lives with his parents, working in the barber shop like his father before him. Business is not exactly booming these days, so Stan decides it's time to make a change and lands a job at the Weather Bureau - much to the delight of his crotchety father, a backyard meteorologist of some note.
Finally out in the real world, Stan has trouble adjusting to his new job until he meets George, a pretty red-headed girl from the country. Unlike the rest of the public servants in the bureau, George's friendly manner and helpful suggestions give Stan confidence in his own abilities. Soon they become friends and a little light shines into their previously sheltered lives.
Stan and George's New Life is the second feature from this very individual Melbourne filmmaker, following With Love To The Person Next To Me (MFF '87) and the documentary On The Waves Of The Adriatic, which premiered at last year's festival. Not surprisingly it fits neatly into McKenzie's general oeuvre, telling as it does the story of two outsiders who are seemingly at odds with the modern world. As with all his films, McKenzie's interests lie in exploring the lives that these 'ordinary' people live and the way that an increasingly sophisticated society has bypassed them. (His other work from last year, the documentary People Who Still Use Milk Bottles, spelt this theme out even more directly.)
The astute casting of two of our best loved actors, Julie Forsyth and Paul Chubb, in the lead roles,(and a wickedly apt John Bluthal as Stan's father) adds depth to this gentlest of comedies, capturing two timid souls in the wilds of Melbourne's suburbia. (T.B)