Saturday, October 11, 2014
Oyster Farmer (2004) ✭✭✭½
A charming quirkiness oozes from the sprocket holes of this relaxed Australian production. The quite fit Alex O’Loughlin stars as a seemingly aimless young man who manages pull off a very clever robbery, and then high tails it to a remote area of New South Wales to let the heat die down a bit and to await the delivery of a very important package.
From his redoubt on the Hawkesbury River, O’Loughlin becomes involved with an earthy and only semi-legal community of sun baked oystermen, the deep ruts on their faces filled with a black, gritty sweat. We learn much about the techniques of oyster farming, and the back breaking toil required to supply the world’s demand for these tasty bivalves.
And although O’Loughlin has wandered into an area of excessive testosterone, there are two female inhabitants who capture his interest. First, his boss’s estranged and sensual wife (Kerry Armstrong) who cleans his wounds after a dog attack in a scene brimming with eroticism, and a slightly nutty postal clerk (Diana Glenn), who he finds both suspicious and irresistible.
Writer/director Anna Reeves does a fine job of managing both the pacing of the film and keeping a consistent tone to the performances. The cast features a wide array of character actors, including the familiar faces of Jack Thompson and Jim Norton. The film is permeated with a calm, easy going eccentricity, and in many ways is reminiscent of a National Film Board of Canada product. Recommended to those seeking an involving film, but aren’t in the mood for a challenging one.
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