So hows about I write a review about a new Aussie film that doesn’t lecture the reader on the plight of the Australian film industry? Would that be nice for a change? Okay, done.
So Oyster Farmer has a pretty bad title. If I hadn’t heard positive comments, or seen the trailer, I mightn’t have bothered. Sure, it’s accurate, and probably unique, but couldn’t it have been called something a little more charismatic? Even ‘Oyster’ would have been better, although it may have been confused with the novel of the same name. (I suppose one of the cool things about the title is that if you do a search in IMDB it comes up straight away).
The opening sequence is astonishingly beautiful, showing off New South Wales’ Hawkesbury River. There’s a lot of stereotypically dressed Aussies sitting around drinking VB, apparently not appreciating the view because they’re present to earn a living. The score is beautiful and perfectly complements the tone, yet seems to belong to the UK half of the film rather than the Aussie one.
The main problem with Oyster Farmer is that Alex O’Lachlan’s performance isn’t quite as strong as the others’. Diana Glenn is great as the no nonsense Pearl, and Armstrong and Field’s collective experience make for a perfect broken down couple. Jim Norton is the standout in this film, however. His performance is extraordinary as the gruff old Mumbles whose caustic sense of humour can’t hide a heart of gold. There was a kind of hushed reverence when Jack Thompson made his first appearance, which I felt was a little unnecessary. In the long run his character didn’t really add much to the film, so it felt a bit of a disappointment. I would have liked to have seen more of Jack’s sister Nikki, and wondered at times if a lot of her story had been deleted from an earlier script or cut of the film.
Oyster Farmer succeeds in everything it sets out to achieve, yet overall is nothing too spectacular. Solid viewing.Rating: