Nothing to Blame Here


There’s nothing inherently wrong with this new, concise Aussie thriller from first-time feature maker Michael Henry. It’s essentially well acted, beautifully shot, and the script has enough propulsion to sustain its very modest eighty-eight minutes. The only thing is that it doesn’t have a vital bone in its body – it’s not going to tell you anything about the state of the world, and the psychology of the characters unfortunately does not go anywhere near deep enough to reveal hitherto unknown or buried aspects of the human condition. It seems to exist purely to exist – that is, it feels like someone wanted to make a movie, so they made this, rather than wanting desperately to tell this story, and feature film seemed like the only way to do it. (In America, this would be called a “calling-card” movie, meaning that the filmmakers’ main motivation seems to have been to show the powers that be that they could make a movie so that they could get to make another, bigger budget movie – presumably with more personal themes). All that said, there’s nothing wrong with a quick little film with an attractive cast, a beautiful setting and a neat little story; if you want swift and undemanding, this is fine, well-made entertainment. Essentially it’s a home invasion story with a couple of twists; the invaders are all well-dressed and well-spoken; the victim maybe deserving of his predicament; and the gorgeous home is in the gorgeous Aussie bush on a gorgeous sunny Aussie day. The ensemble of invaders are a mixed bag: Kestie Morassi’s character, Cate, has the strongest backstory and the hardest choices, and thus almost inevitably she comes off the best; Simon Stone’s character is the most weakly written (and is also incredibly annoying, repetitive and shouty) so he inevitably comes off looking desperate, flailing to add some spine to a character that just doesn’t work. As the “victim”, the very charismatic Damian de Montemas has the best role because it’s the only one that’s unique; he pulls it off with admirable professionalism. BLAME won’t win any awards or be the jewel in the crown at any festivals, but if you like seeing Australian stories on screen, there’s no reason to miss this one, and I have no doubt that, as a calling card, this will launch the career of Michael Henry: we’ll hear more from him.

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