48 Shades
(Lampaine, 2006)
Cast:
Daniel Bancroft—Richard Wilson
Jacq—Robin McLeavy
Naomi—Emma Lung
Chris Burns—Nick Donaldson
Phil—Michael Booth
Imogen—Victoria Thaine
Mr. Wilkes—Paul Bishop
Lisa—Elea Logan
Gazoonga Attack—Tamara Bell,
                           Renae Collett,
                           Serinda Rogers
Jason—Corey Robinson
Deli Owner—Nick Earls
Stoned Kid—Joshua Donnelly
Blond Woman—Peita McCulloch
Computer Geek 1—Julian Curtis
Computer Geek 2—Nicholas Gilpen
Immigration Officer—Rob Marsala
Boner—Jed the Dog

Crew:
Director—Daniel Lampaine
Writer—Daniel Lampaine
           Based on the novel “48 Shades of Brown” by Nick Earls
Producer—Rob Marsala
Executive Producer—Fiona Crago
Cinematographer—Tony Luu
Production Designer—Michelle Sotheren
Film Editor—Nicola Scarrott
                  Frans Vandenburg
Music—Justin Hunter
           Adam Lang
Production CompaniesPrima Productions,
                                  Moreton Advisory Group,
                                  Australian Film Commission,
                                  Pacific Film and Television Commission
Distributors—Buena Vista International

Other Film Information:
Running Time96 minutes
Country—Australia
Filming Location—Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
GenreComing of Age
Certification—M
Release DatesAugust 31, 2006
DVD Release DateFebruary 7, 2007
Box Office Opening$70,597
Highest Cinema Ranking:   
Awards
   
Nominations:
        Inside Film Award in Best Music—Adam Lang and Justin Hunter
        Inside Film Award in Best Production Design—Michelle Sotheren

Reviews:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/48-shades/2006/08/30/1156816962488.html
Sandra Hall, 30/08/2006, Accessed 15/04/08
Sunny looks and good intentions—but it’s not a match for Nick Earls’ book.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/48-shades/2006/08/24/1156012663090.html
Jim Schembri, 24/08/06, Accessed 15/04/08
            A few fun sequences involving an impressively staged house party at the centre of    the story raise some laughs, but first-time director Daniel Lapaine, who adapted       the screenplay from the best-selling book by Nick Earls, has the film stuck in first      gear.

http://hoopla.nu/films/48shades/48shades.html
Mark Lavercombe, 9/09/06, Accessed 15/04/08
48 Shades is never frankly bad, however its failure to achieve any depth of   character means it is a poor substitute for Earls' novel. Charming in moments,          and featuring what may be a break-out performance for Robin McLeavy in her      first feature film, there may be some enjoyment to be found for those unfamiliar          with the source only.

Interviews:
At the Movies—Daniel Lampaine
http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1720051.htm

Special features: The Making of 48 Shades
            This clip has short interviews with Daniel Lampaine, Rob Marsala, Nick Earls,        Tony Luu, Richard Wilson, Robin McLeavy, Emma Lung, Nick Donaldson,         Michael Booth, and Victoria Thaine.

Online Presence:
Most websites when searching for 48 Shades online provide the basic credits for the film as well as a synopsis. A few websites have reviews available. There was an abundance of websites about Nick Earls’ book 48 Shades of Brown. This book gained a lot of popularity and also won the Children’s Book of the Year: Older Readers Award form the Children’s Book Council of Australia. The movie did not get as much attention which is evident through the limited number of websites available.

The Cinematic Intelligence Agency
http://thecia.com.au/reviews/1/48-shades.shtml

At The Movies
http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1720012.htm

In Cinemas
http://www.incinemas.com.au/movies/moviepage.asp?MovieID=274

Hoopla.nu
http://hoopla.nu/films/48shades/48shades.html

The Internet Movie Database
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0476519/

Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/48_Shades

 

Part II

Critical Review:
Synopsis:
            As mentioned above, the film 48 Shades is a story adapted from Nick Earls’ book 48 Shades of Brown. Sixteen-year-old Daniel Bancroft moves in with his Aunt Jacq to finish his last year of school when his parents move to Geneva. Dan must quickly adapt to a new lifestyle as his Aunt Jacq and her housemate, Naomi, are only a few years older and take full advantage of being uni students.  The film follows the interactions between the three housemates during the first few days of living together, although it feels like a longer period of time. In this way, the film nicely parallels the “compression of time” that occurs in Romeo and Juliet, which Dan must write an essay about for school. 
            The film is full of crushes and unrequited love. Dan quickly develops a crush on Naomi when he first meets her.  His efforts to capture her attention become quite comical, especially when the pesto he makes has an extra ingredient: dirt.  He goes to a lot of trouble memorizing types of birds to impress Naomi who mentioned her fascination with the scientific names of trees and birds. Dan’s best friend, Chris, has a very different approach to the opposite sex. He eagerly comes up with a story to hide his youth to tell people at the party that Jacq and Naomi throw.  Chris has a great time at the party but isn’t successful in attracting girls, even Imogen who also lies about her age.  She and Phil, the land owner, also have troubles in the world of love mostly due to their odd personalities, but also due to a little too much booze.  Imogen is constantly shown with lollies or shoving food in her face and she creates awkward conversations by asking about “Nigel” who doesn’t exist. She almost gets a chance with Dan at the party, but that is terminated by her vomiting in his hair and on his essay.  Phil’s strange trait is his fascination with making nature films about manatees. His consumption of alcohol at the party results in his final rejection from Jacq, his crush, after he has stripped and announced his love for her. Jacq’s love is more of an internal struggle than an action like the other characters. Throughout the movie she is tormented by loving Naomi but unable to tell her for fear of rejection. 
             The forty-eight shades mentioned in the title of the film play a very small part in the film as a subject of conversation between Dan and Naomi. Each time the brown shades are mentioned Dan and Naomi appear to be a little closer to connecting with each other. The first time is at the park, when Dan mentions that there are indeed forty-eight shades, but fails to impress Naomi much as he doesn’t have the shades memorized.  Later on, he is able to name a bird in the yard for her. They both agree that they like the bird and thus connect in that way. The final mention of the colors is when Dan recites all of the shades for her. She strokes his hand where he has the shades of brown written and the physical touch hints that there may be a mutual attraction finally even if it never comes to fruition.

Critical Uptake:
         48 Shades is the first film that Daniel Lampaine has written a screenplay for as well as being his first directing job.  He was approached by Rob Marsala, a first time full feature film producer, with Nick Earls’ novel and the desire to turn it into a movie.  Under their direction, the story became an enjoyable film.  Major critiques include the shallow character development compared to the novel, and the pace of the movie. As with all movies that are developed from a book, there is a challenge to include enough of the original storyline while keeping the movie to a reasonable length. According to Mark Lavercombe on the Hoopla website, the main events of the movie do not convey the same importance or impact on the characters as they do in the book (Lavercombe, 2006).  Not having read the book, I think that the characters have enough depth as it is developed through their non-verbal presence in the film.  Robin McLeavy’s very complex character as Jacq is especially played well; her anxiety and reactions to Dan and Naomi throughout the movie fits with the eventual revelation that she is gay. The least developed main character is Naomi, but this is helpful in creating a mystery about her that adds to Dan and Jacq’s attraction to her.  With any more development of her character she would become distracting and could not serve as well as the object of their love which isn’t reciprocated.
            At an hour and a half, the film feels rather short, even with the arrangement of events within a few days that never seem to end.  It is hard to believe that the whole story only occurs within the same week.  The soundtrack sets a pretty steady pace throughout the film. It offsets the many non-verbal frames of each of the characters and fits them with meaning and feeling. 
         48 Shades did not get much of a welcome or attention from anyone besides the residents of Brisbane who could appreciate the representation of their city in the movie. The film premiered at the Brisbane International Film Festival where it was very well received, but it did not continue to cultivate interest. This may be due to the number of coming-of-age films made in 2006 and the several movies that were made in years preceding it.  48 Shades followed the release of The Caterpillar Wish which was quite a successful movie winning two awards and three more nominations. The actress, Victoria Thaine, received much more praise for her work in The Caterpillar Wish than in 48 Shades.  Also made in 2006, was the movie 2:37 which followed 48 Shades in release.  A number of successful coming-of-age movies were made the following year and took more attention away from 48 Shades. These films include: Clubland, Romulus My Father, The Home Song Stories, December Boys, and September.  Before 48 Shades was made, there were also a few films within the same genre made in 2004 (Gillard, 2008). Somersault, In My Father’s Den, and Peaches contributed to the criticism of 48 Shades for not being as well character developed. Actress Emma Lung was given better reviews for her work in Peaches and became some what of a disappointment to some in 48 Shades. This was likely a result of the character she was playing and not because her acting abilities.
            The film 48 Shades can be enjoyed by many because of it’s representation of young love, crushes that are not reciprocated, and the frustrations of growing up.  These themes are easy for audiences to relate to and the comedy of the situations that Dan and his flatmates go through can be all too familiar to many. It is this familiarity that gives the film value in today’s world. 

Genre within Australian Film:
       48 Shades can be categorized as a Coming-of-Age film because the plot revolves around the experiences of Dan, the main character, as he gains independence, falls in love for the first time, experiments with the opposite sex, and journeys towards adulthood.  When Dan goes through customs in the airport, we see the first glimpse of his childhood: the photo of a young Dan in his passport. Also, early on in the film, he is shown pretending to be a cricket player who has thrown a winning pitch.  He becomes embarrassed when he finds that Naomi has witnessed his fantasy.  His efforts to impress Naomi also show innocence and at the same time show how he is trying to grow up.  The attempt to make pesto, his memorization of bird facts, and his respect for Naomi appear rather sophisticated compared to his friend, Chris’s views on the value of women and how to attract them.  His experiences at the uni party show how much he is learning about the lifestyle of university students and how to behave. He seems disappointed in many cases as none of it turns out as he expects.  Dan grows up quite a bit during that night: dealing with the disappointment that Naomi’s boyfriend, Jason has come back; being nice to Imogen even after she threw up on him; worrying for Chris when he goes to sleep in his own vomit.  The next morning he acts very grown up while talking with his aunt.  He comes to grips with the idea of rejection and moves on after one last attempt to attract Naomi—naming all forty-eight shades of brown.
            The Australian identity shown in the film comes from three sources: the scenery and landscape in which the film takes place, the unique Australian humor, and its non-Hollywood ending.  48 Shades takes place in Brisbane, Queensland and has a lot of shots of its scenery and landmarks. According to Bruce Mullan, “...the strongest character in 48 Shades is the setting, which displays the beauty of Brisbane at its best with familiar scenes of the river, the city skyline, Rosalie shops, and the Story Bridge” (Mullan, 2006).  The school that Dan and Chris attend is the Uniting Church’s Brisbane Boy’s College, and it serves as a very prominent and beautiful shot whenever Dan is at school in the film. 
            The comedy present in the film is very characteristic of Australian humor. An example of this is Phil’s obsession with nature Phil’s obsession with nature films. He brings it into conversation with each person that he meets as well as getting an entire group of people at the party to watch his documentaries on the manatee. Chris and Imogen’s characters are also very comical. The best scene to illustrate Imogen’s hilarity is when she and Dan are underneath the table. Not only does she look silly by stuffing the food in her face, but she starts a conversation about her hair. It is an awkward moment when Dan is told that her hair was dyed another shade of brown, but it brings up a great example of the relative shades of brown that are so prominently mentioned in the film.
            The third Australian trait of the film is the ending.  At the conclusion of the movie, no one has won, and no one has got the girl. Yet, the movie still creates a contented feeling for the audience without this triumph. The Hollywood culture of movies is so centered on victory in any kind of race or competition.  It is a refreshing change for there not to be a victory, as in life victory is not always possible.  It is this difference of non-conformity to Hollywood culture that gives the film a feeling of the unique Australian identity and culture.
Conclusion:
       48 Shades is a good movie. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys light coming-of-age comedies. As a first time writer and director, Daniel Lampaine did an impressive job with this film.  There are some criticisms directed at the movie because it does not have nearly as much character development as the book, 48 Shades of Brown. However, if it is enjoyed as a movie and not as an interpretation of the book, it has many redeeming qualities.  Also, this film is an example of the coming-of-age genre and has several genuinely Australian traits.

 

Bibliography:
“48 Shades.” (2008, Mar. 30). Retrieved April 17, 2008, from Wikipedia Web site:            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/48_Shades

 “48 Shades”.(2008). Retrieved April 15, 2008, from IMDb.com Web site:            http://imdb.com/title/tt0476519/

48 Shades, Lampaine, D. (2006).
Gillard, G. (2008, Apr. 1). Coming-of-age/rite-of-passage film . Retrieved April 14,            2008, from MCC231 Australian Cinema Web site: http://garrygillard.net/231/

Lavercombe, M. (2006, Sept. 9). 48 Shades. Retrieved April 15, 2008, from Hoopla.nu      Web site:http://hoopla.nu/films/48shades/48shades.html

Mullan, B (2006, Sept. 9). Retrieved April 15, 2008, from 48 Shades Web site:            http://www.journeyonline.com.au/showArticle.php?categoryId=5&articleId=681

 

Critical Review by Rachel Bluett 2008