West of Sunshine
Damian Hill, Ty Perhan, Arthur Angel, Kat Stewart, Faye Smythe, Tony Nikolakopoulos
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…well written and well acted by all concerned…
Nominally this is a story about someone trying to get out from under a heavy problem which threatens his physical wellbeing. But in essence it’s really a two-hander about the relationship – difficult, but deeply affectionate – between a father and son. (Though it also shows that things are fraught between husband and wife.)
Writer-director Jason Raftopoulos has fashioned a compelling drama, at once low-key, understated and tense, set in the suburban streets of Melbourne. Geographical location aside, it actually recalls the kind of gripping Iranian cinema in which simple plot lines involving children bespeak universal themes.
Jim (Damian Hill) is a delivery man, but more to the point he is also a compulsive gambler who needs to pay off a $15,000 debt by the end of the day, or face dire consequences. To this end, he drives around – accompanied by his son Alex (Ty Perhan) – and desperately importunes one friend, colleague or ex-girlfriend after another. In some ways Jim is a hopeless case; he’s the kind of person who screws up even – especially – when luck turns in his favour. But at his core he’s likeable.
Technically West Of Sunshine is nothing much, and it has the look of a low-budget TV movie. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s well written and well acted by all concerned, and thematically the modesty and simplicity are its strengths.