MOVIE REVIEW: SWINGING SAFARI

MOVIE REVIEW: SWINGING SAFARI
Writer/Director – Stephan Elliot
Starring Atticus Robb, Darcey Wilson, Asher Keddie, Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8.5/10

Beachside suburban life in mid-70s Australia was simpler in many ways than the hustle and bustle of today’s increasingly insta-digital world, and Stephan Elliot (Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert) recreates the era lovingly in his semi-autobiographical Swinging Safari.

Three families’ lives intertwine on the same street of Nobbys Beach, as the kids go wild in the backyard and beach, trying desperately to grow up too fast, while the adults are similarly desperate for something to spice up the mundanity of their lives.

The kids star in fourteen-year-old Jeff Marsh (Atticus Robb)’s C-grade Super-8 horror films, while he dreams longingly of Melly Jones, his similarly aged, introspective and shy neighbour, who – aghast at her parents lifestyle – longs to be invisible.

Their parents – Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue(reunited together for the first time since Neighbours), Asher Keddie’s tennis-and-gossip lover, Jeremy Sims, Julian McMahon and Radha Mitchell– guzzle cask wine, pop pills, attempt an evening of wife-swapping, and are generally far too self-involved to see that their various kids are setting each other on fire, creating gory horror movies, sneaking off with their vodka and giving a queue of local lads blowjobs almost daily – all while a washed up 200-ton blue whale rots away slowly on the beach. Like the whale, parents and kids alike are stuck in their happy/unhappy adult and childhood lives in Nobbys Beach.

At the tender heart of this chaotic romp through the decade of flammable fabrics and kids running amuck is the coming of age of Jeff and Melly, possibly the most normal characters in the neighbourhood – even when their obnoxious parents set them up for a blue light disco night they wish they could forget. Their juvenile love story is brought to life by the understated performances of the actors, a calm eye in the centre of the suburban storm that surrounds them.

Swinging Safari is a How Not To Be A Responsible Parent handbook, darkly hilarious, especially to those of us who grew up in that era and share similar experiences. Crammed full of memorabilia and in-jokes, sunken lounges, Coolabah casks, cheese fondue, baby oil, unsupervised children, runaway beach umbrellas and every shade of beige and orange under the sun, the movie goes by in a blur, only slowing for Jeff and Melly’s relationship to slowly bloom.

Blissfully free of the hammy, over-enunciated soap opera acting that often plagues Aussie films, Swinging Safari can be taken as a kitsch throwback to another time, a funny, sexy romp or a parable about being true to yourself. Whichever way you choose to view it, it’s full of laughs and heart and retro so-uncool-it’s-cool chic.

MOVIE REVIEW: SWINGING SAFARI

Filed Under: Movie & Theatre Reviews

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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