Reece Noi, Yiana Pandelis, Todd McKenney, Paula Duncan, Christine Anu
Entertaining, warm, honest, thoughtful and moving, Unsound is a gutsy charmer.
One of the great strengths of the cinematic medium is that it can take the audience into worlds and communities that they’ve never had the opportunity to previously experience. Yes, that can manifest itself in the most extreme fashion in the form of superhero movies, historical tales and science fiction, but it can also mean giving the audience a better look at someone that could very well be their neighbour or work colleague. The new Australian drama, Unsound, is a fine example of this, placing front and centre a number of marginalised groups – the deaf, gay and trans communities – that many may have only experienced through news reports and splashy headlines.
Sensitively directed by TV veteran Ian Watson (who has helmed eps of just about everything, from Neighbours and Heartbreak High to Farscape and Dance Academy) and scripted with a keen sense of insight by young writer, Ally Burnham, Unsound is much more than just an educational piece, however, trading in richly drawn characters and deeply emotional situations.
When guitarist, Noah (young import Reece Noi, who has appeared in Game Of Thrones, When They See Us and Hit & Miss), quits the band of his mentor, Moniqua (Aussie singer Christine Anu), he returns to his mother’s home in Sydney. Clashing almost immediately with his burnt out mum (Paula Duncan) over their difficult family history, Noah eventually enters the orbit of young trans-man, Finn (Yiana Pandelis), who runs a local centre and nightclub for his deaf community. Despite meeting cute, the pair embark on a rocky, always fraught relationship that will ironically send them both on a path to healing and understanding.
Well played by Reece Noi and Yiana Pandelis (herself deaf), Noah and Finn are great characters – sympathetic but difficult, fascinating, and richly drawn in three dimensions – and they anchor Unsound beautifully. Their relationship feels authentic at every turn, and the supporting cast is great too, with Todd McKenney a particular stand-out as Finn’s conciliatory and understanding father, and Olivia Beasley making a huge impression as Finn’s proud, fiery friend, Riley.
Director Ian Watson and screenwriter Ally Burnham also expertly depict marginalised communities as wonderfully diverse, and not just monolithic groups whose members all espouse the same opinions and philosophies. Unsound sidesteps any cliches with ease; moves at a brisk pace; employs just the right amount of sweetness in its romance; and advocates without preaching…in short, no mean feat. Entertaining, warm, honest, thoughtful and moving, Unsound is a gutsy charmer.