Three Blind Mice

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Venue: Sydney Film Festival

"Three Blind Mice" is a freewheeling "On the Town"-style romp with a dark heart that proves a triumph for young triple-threat Matthew Newton. The actor shows off an idiosyncratic style with this sure-footed detour into writing and directing, selected for the Sydney Film Festival's inaugural competition, the Sydney Film Prize. Smart and sophisticated, the film scampers along on a raft of quick-witted dialogue and naturalistic interplay between members of a playful ensemble cast. There's even an emotional pay-off.

Local audiences will find the savvy writing a breath of fresh air and, with a Who's Who of Aussie actors in cameo roles (including a surprisingly funny Alex Dimitriades), this distinctive dramedy should have no trouble attracting a domestic distributor.

Newton plays Harry, one of three young Australian sailors enjoying a 24-hour shore-leave in Sydney before shipping out to Iraq. He's a mouthy trouble-maker, the ship's comedian. But like his fellow adventurers Sam (Ewen Leslie) and Dean (Toby Schmitz,) there are unexpected layers to his character. As the night wears on, the trio pinballs around the city striking up an immediate rapport with a series of strangers in what at first appears to be merely a succession of talky set pieces.

When Sam decides to go AWOL, hooking up with a random waitress (Gracie Otto in a fine debut), and Dean makes a brutal confession during a sake-soaked dinner with his fiancee's parents, the dynamics shift beneath the banter to reveal a subtle anti-war message. The looseness of the storyline makes it supple not slack and, even if some scenes overstay their welcome, Newton manages to pack a lot in.

Production companies: Dirty Rat Productions and Odin's Eye Entertainment. Cast: Matthew Newton, Ewen Leslie, Toby Schmitz, Gracie Otto, Pia Miranda. Director/screenwriter: Matthew Newton. Executive producers: Michael Favelle and Ben Ferris. Producer: Ben Davis. Co-producer: Caitlin Stanton. Director of photography: Hugh Miller. Production designer: Paul Finch. Music: John Foreman. Editor: Gracie Otto
Sales: Odin's Eye Entertainment

92 minutes.


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