“As enjoyable as it is, it’s still as average as a C on an English exam, and we’ve seen it more times than Paris Hilton’s right honker” – Clint Morris
David Wenham, Frances O’Connor, Johanna Hunt-Prokhovnic, Sarah Wynter
It’s actually kind of ironic that I’d inadvertently pop the screener for “Three Dollars”- an entertaining but by no means groundbreaking Aussie film that’s going the quick route to video after a very short stay in cinemas – in the machine, only minutes after listening to the panel on TV’s “Project Greenlight Australia” rant on about the mediocrity of the local industry. In some respects, it’s as if “Three Dollars” were meant to follow the tête-à-tête – as a shining example of one of the better, but still imperfect efforts we’re spitting out. As enjoyable as it is, it’s still as average as a C on an English exam, and we’ve seen it more times than Paris Hilton’s right honker.
“Three Dollars” is good, it’s quite good, but mainly because of the fantastic performances –not because of the screenplay which never really gets off the ground, seemingly tentative as to where it’s supposed to cap itself off. Granted, it is based on a book, and can’t stray too far from the source material, but it definitely could’ve done with a pinwheel down its briefs to kick it along at times.
Wenham plays Eddie, an honest, kindhearted bloke, with a loving wife (Frances O’Connor) and gorgeous little daughter (Joanna Hunt-Prokhovnik). In essence, and like so many of us, he’s living from pay packet to pay packet, concerned that one-day he might, and his family, may be on their ass.
The film, which trips back, forward, back-again, forward-again and then ties up a couple of loose ends, shows how Eddie gets down to his last three dollars without any trouble at all and tries to recollect how he got himself into such a pickle. For one, he loses his job, the wife loses her job and before they know it, they’re broke, and he’s getting tips on how to scavenge food from Melbourne’s streets.
Wenham’s one of the country’s best talents, and is no less convincing here as the compassionate doormat, Eddie. O’Connor, is good too, giving solid support as his distressed spouse. Sarah Wynter, who has been in the states of late, returns home to play the pivotal but tiny role of a woman from Eddie’s past – who pops up every nine years or so. Wynter’s fine in the part, but seriously, wouldn’t it have been cheaper to get a talented local actress to fill such a small role?
There’s a lot that’s good here – - but there’s just something about the film that lets off a stench of patchiness – the underwritten support cast, even O’Connor’s character at times, the first-person narrative, the mish mash of genres – especially when compared to some of the great films of yesteryear. Still, if this is an indication that our local industry is returning to the days of solid storytelling and fine-ass acting – then break me off another bit.
Reviewer : Clint Morris