Magazine article Screen International

'West of Sunshine': Venice Review

Magazine article Screen International

'West of Sunshine': Venice Review

Article excerpt

A slice of Australian neo-realism as a dad tries to repay his debts over the course of one stress-filled day

Dir/scr. Jason Raftopoulos. Australia, 2017, 78 mins.

A slice of neorealism, Australian-style, West of Sunshine couches a bleak day in brightness - visually, in its sun-lit tour off Melbourne’s beaten track; and emotionally, as a father and son traverse trying times together. Adapting his award-winning short Father’s Day into this Venice Orizzonti-premiering debut, writer/director Jason Raftopoulos doesn’t shy away from his influences, a bicycle included, but this ultimately optimistic look at desperate money troubles and deep-seated intergenerational struggles is no easy Antipodean rehash.

Raftopoulos astutely probes more than a single strained relationship

While a naturalistic feel and comparably true-to-life performances might be in keeping with its genre forebears, West of Sunshine uses them to tell a local tale. Ample location shots, and the unaffected presence of star Damien Hill and his real-life stepson Tyler Perham, help build a sincere and resonant effort that finds relatable insights in its slight yet involving scenario. As well as an Australian release, this engaging film has modest potential for further travel.

After earning awards in Australia for writing and starring in 2015’s similarly low-budge Pawno, Hill takes on the role of motor mechanic turned courier Jim, a good guy at heart facing a grim plight. His former boss and current loan shark Banos (Tony Nikolakopoulos) wants $15,000 repaid by the end of this specific summery Friday, though securing the funds, going to work and looking after his adolescent son Alex (Perham) during the school holidays don’t exactly mix. …

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