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| 30 August 2018 | Reply

Directed & Co-written by Marion Pilowsky
Starring Eddie Izzard, Emily Taheny, Vanessa Guide, Luke McKenzie
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

You don’t see a lot of movies set in Adelaide, and you don’t see an abundance of great Aussie rom-coms either. The Flip Side is the former, and although it tries hard, it just isn’t the latter.

What it is, though, is… nice. Pleasant. Bland. Middle of the road. But I daresay it’s not from lack of trying. For starters, the story is solid, as is the acting.

Caterer Ronnie (Emily Taheny) and movie star Henry (Eddie Izzard) have a torrid affair on a film set, and he invites her to come to live with him in London. Five years and a broken heart later, Sophie’s restaurant is about to be shut down and her Mum evicted from her old age home due to non-payment, and Henry finally calls. Well, not him – his assistant Sophie (Vanessa Guide), who arranges with Ronnie’s boyfriend Jeff (Luke McKenzie) for a lift from the airport when they arrive in town for a film festival screening.

Co-writer (with Lee Sellars) and first-time director Marion Pilowsky sets everything up nicely for a sizzling love triangle or square, but this is where the gas runs out. As Henry flirts with Ronnie, she deals with the feelings for him she still has, creating an awkward vibe – well, it should have been awkward, but zooming in on awkward looks which seem to go unnoticed by any other character does not an awkward vibe make, merely awkward direction. Lovable wannabe novelist doofus Jeff is so oblivious to Ronnie and Henry’s past affair, and unwittingly plays along as Sophie – Henry’s current amour) flirts outrageously to get back at her fella.

The main problem is that there is no real spark between Ronnie and Henry. Both act fine but are stifled – even Izzard seems to have been instructed by his director to not be so Izzard-esque, to play it straight. Some of his trademark outrageousness would have been hugely welcome. The end result is ho-hum and the charisma of Guide and McKenzie far outshine the stars.

Even a road trip into the bush and a series of set pieces designed to provoke comedic moments fall flat. Our screening was met with a hushed silence for most of the film, only a few titters or laugh out loud moments when it should have been a riot from start to finish.

In short, the film flops when it should have flipped. There are no great confrontations or revelations for any of the four main characters, we merely watch for ninety minutes as one couple breezes into another’s lives, and then leaves without anything substantial changing. Around them they are not buffeted by Ronnie’s business going under, Jeff’s pretentious-sounding novel, or any of the irrelevant minor plot incursions which seem designed to pad out a wafer-thin script.

Huge kudos to Pilowsky for getting her story and movie made – it’s truly a significant effort, and it’s not bad, except by virtue of being so badly dull and unconvincing. With a bit more experience under her belt I have no doubt Pilowsky might make some great films, but this one is doomed to a lifetime of midday television repeats, I’m afraid.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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