The International Writers
Both Ways (2005)
Australia/Director & Writer, Sarah Watts
Cinematography, Ray Argull
Both Ways is
Sarah Watts Australian debut, and what a beautifully vivid piece
of contemporary filmmaking it is. The film essentially comprises
of all the familiar narrative elements, evident in Magnolia
(1999), the amalgamation of a series of lives, forced together
by chance, by one important entity. Its a mesmerising and
deeply moving debut by the Australian newcomer. She, herself,
is a native Australian, who has carefully created, not only a
thought provoking piece of Australian life, but adapted a real
essence of the her own personality and imagination.
She montages her own hand-made painted animation images, through a series
of thoughts and emotions, explored through comical sketches and the human
state; this is cleverly contrasted with the films sequences.
The film is enhanced by a faultless performance by the central female
character, Meryl. She brings an extroidinary realness and likeability
to the film, her thoughts are subsequently transformed into these hand
painted animation sketches, giving light to the underlying serious theme.
The sparse neglected Australian landscapes and dirt tracks are more charismatic
than saddening. It is no surprise then that this film managed to scoop
four awards at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2005, Best Film, Director,
Best Original screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Successfully cementing
the rise, of leading Australian filmmakers.
The film has received immense recognition throughout Australia and is
now embarking on conquering the American film festivals. The film consequently,
received a standing innovation at the awards ceremony. A mature, complex
and beautifully directed film, Sarah Watts technique seems effortless,
with a convincing cast to complement. The complex characters are contrasted
with derelict dirt tracks and the cityscapes of Australia. Each performance
is so genuinely moving that it is hard to concentrate on one character
at a time, they all have flaws and they all go through a harsh learning
process. This, in essence, is what captivated me about the film. It shows
raw emotion at its purest. A link between consequence, fate and destiny,
seems to arise from each of the characters situations. It is in fact,
an emotionally expressive explosion of a film. It touches a nerve. The
strong performances by all the cast help to carry the films storyline
and underlying subject matter. The title itself is clearly a catalyst
for the film. Not accepting just one alternative, but looking further
into our choices and desires. The film is very reflective in every sense.
An autobiographical scrapbook of each character, seen through a sequence
of montage images, helps us to visualise each characters past and
present. You get the feeling that Watts has tried to make us understand
how society shapes us, and our relationships, but also constricts our
true inner feelings amid one another. The intricate emotions of family,
the worry of life threatening deceases and the sense of soldiering on
in all efforts to forget.
It is a powerful debut, which carefully constructs the complex existence
of human life. The strains of merely living in a modern world and the
complications that arise through our existence are portrayed accurately
through the lives of seven very different characters. Watts has
carefully entwined the lives of all, connecting them through one event,
which will change their perspective, on life after death.
The soundtrack elevates the film immensely; a collection shaped from Australian
artists, such as Sleepy Jackson, the soundtrack also contains the track,
"Dark of My Moon" by Gene Clark of The Bryds fame.
Watts herself originally set out to make a romantic comedy, but
the stuff of most peoples lives includes what we think of as tragedy,
"Look Both Ways ended up a bit of both I guess. I like searching
for the universal aspects of peoples experience, in both the big
and little things. I tried to keep everything as real as I
could, to allow people to receive the film as part of their own experience,
to bring their own lives to it and enjoy it that way".
And it certainly is one of those films that you can relate to in one way
or another, emotionally and spiritually, if you like Magnolia (1999),
you will no doubt love this film, it truly is an enchanting and heartening
debut, we definitely need more Australian films like this! Pronto!
© Carly Mclain Feb 2007
misshoney780 at hotmail.com
Mans Shoes (2004) Director: Shane Meadows
Violence and Revenge are the three main aspects of British culture which
Shane Meadows carefully combines in a disturbingly naturalistic way
Carly is soon to be a graduate of the Creative Arts Programme at the University
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