When 16 year old, Dan (Richard Wilson) declines to go to Geneva with his parents for a year and instead, shares a house with his young aunt, Jacq (Robin McLeavy) and fellow young tenant, Naomi (Emma Lung), he begins an adventure as a young adult, which leads him to parties, new friends - and his first, troubled romance.
Review by Louise Keller:
Life has many shades, especially through the impressionable eyes of a 16 year old whose eyes become unblinkered by the impact of first love. Through Daniel Lapaine's deft script and direction, Nick Earls' best selling novel springs to the screen with as much freshness as its endearing and diverse characters. An observant and thoroughly enjoyable coming of age story coloured by circumstance, emotions, expectations and dreams, the film is as charming as it is funny.
We instantly warm to Richard Wilson's protagonist Daniel, who stumbles headfirst into situations he had not even considered. In his new everyday life a world away from his parents in Geneva, Daniel's new found freedom not only dangles challenges in his path, but prompts him to see things differently. When his fun-loving aunt Jacq (Robin McLeavy) meets him at the airport and takes him home, we take in Daniel's new world. She drives an old yellow car with a dent in the front, and home is a pot pouri of dangling shell light fittings, art deco paintings and a black and white barking dog in the back yard. He is besotted by his sensual blonde roommate Naomi (Emma Lum) immediately. We can see how his mind is working as he memorises bird-names and their 48 different shades of brown in order to impress her.
The central performances are winning and Michael Booth gives a funny turn as wacky, amateur film-maker landlord Phil, whose 'enzyme thing' mixed with alcohol prompts a nocturnal strip and streak in the garden at Jacq's party. There's a kiss under a table, seduction thwarted by vomit, lesbian lust, an incident with his head in a bucket of water.... Self-consciousness turns into confidence as Daniel finds himself as both a confidant and potential suitor.
Lapaine meticulously creates a mood and environment that immediately gives us a sense of place. From Brisbane's sparkling harbour and cityscape to suburban houses propped up on stilts, like the music, the mood is multi-faceted. Delightful.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
As I am well out of the target market for this film, it's perhaps not surprising that I find it hard to engage with, and see flaws and weaknesses instead of going along with Dan on his journey. Distanced by the slowness of the pace and the enervating soundtrack, I am curious about the book, which by all accounts is terrific. But what might work for a book won't always work when the prose sentence is turned into moving pictures. A lovely phrase with deep resonances engages our hearts and minds, but the representation of that is incredibly difficult.
Things that 'read funny' don't always 'play funny' on screen, and too many lingering shots or slow-mo scenes under soft pop songs dampen the mood. As for the puppy love romance that is meant to carry the emotional arc, it's too faint on film and we care too little about it to anchor the movie.
Daniel Lapaine (best known in Australia as the South African swimmer who pays Muriel to marry him for Australian residency purposes in Muriels' Wedding) has taken on the task of adapting the book and directing the film, a twin job that has not been as successful as fans of Nick Earls' books may have wanted.
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48 SHADES (M)
CAST: Richard Wilson, Emma Lung, Robin McLeavy, Nicholas Donaldson, Victoria Thaine, Eleanor Logan, Paul Bishop
PRODUCER: Rob Marsala
DIRECTOR: Daniel Lapaine
SCRIPT: Daniel Lapaine (novel 48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tony Luu
EDITOR: Nicola Scarrott, Frans Vandenburg
MUSIC: Justin Hunter
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michelle Sotheren
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 31, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
VIDEO RELEASE: February 7, 2007
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
VIDEO RELEASE: January 7, 2007