Assessment Two: Critical Review and Bibliography
Alisha Wyllie

 

 


Part 1: Film information

Key Cast:
Noah Talor………………………………. Danny Embling
Thandie Newton…………………………. Thandiwe Adjewa
Nicole Kidman…………………………... Nicola
Bartholomew Rose………………………. “Gilby” Fryer
Felix Nobis………………………………. Jock Blair
Josh Picker……………………………….. “Backa” Bourke
Kiri Paramore……………………………. “Slag” Green
Marc Aden……………………………….. Christpher Laidlaw (as Marc Gray)
Gregg Palmer…………………………….. Colin Proudfoot
Joshua Marshall………………………….. “Cheddar” Fedderson
David Wieland…………………………… “Possum Piper
Craig Black………………………………. “Pup” Pierdon
Les Hill…………………………………... Greg Gilmore (as Leslie Hill)
Jeff Truman………………………………. Mr Morris Cutts
Marshall Napier………………………….. Mr Rupert Elloitt
John Dicks……………………………….. Rev Consti Nicholson
Kim Wilson……………………………… Melissa Miles
Naomi Watts…………………………….. Janet Odgers

 

Key Crew:
Associate Producer: Barbara Gibbs
Producers: Terry Hayers, George Miller, Doug Mitchell
Cinematography: Geoff Burton
Director: John Duigan
Written by: John Duigan

 

Production Company: Kennedy Miller Productions

Distributors:

Release Dates:
Australia: 21st March 1991
USA New York: 6th November 1992
USA: 14th November 1992
Denmark: TV Premiere 21st August 2003

 

Budget and Box Office Figures:
Gross: $2415396 (USA)
Australia box office 1991: 4th largest Australian film. $1550000

Filming Dates: April to May 1989

Copyright holder: 1990 Kennedy Miller Productions Pty Limited

Awards:
Australian Film Institute:
1990 Wins:

1990 Nominations:

Boston International film festival 1992:

Film Critics Circle of Austrlia:

 

Bibiography of interviews with filmmakers (including directors, writers and producers) at the time of and subsequent to the film’s release.

 

Please note: There are more interviews of the actors on the Internet but they only involve small mentions of Flirting, they do not discuss the movie to any degree.

Bibliography of reviews in newspapers, critical essays in journals, discussions in books.

 

Details of the film’s on-line presence in the web literature.

It is safe to say that this movie is one of the funniest movies to try to “Google”. If one only types “Flirting”, one will be confronted with a magnitude of pages giving the general public advice on how to succeed in the art of flirting. If one types in “Flirting” and “movie” one will come up with this movie, but one will also come up with other movies like “Flirting with disasters”. The best way to get this movie is to type in “Flirting 1991”, with 1991 begin the year this film was released in Australia. Even with this title and date in the search bar one still spends time sifting through pages where the only mention of its name in an actor’s history where the main focus of the articles is which movies they are is now.

 


Part 2: Critical Review of Film and its Literature.

Provide a critical review of the film.

Plot: The film Flirting is the second in an intended trilogy by the director John Duigan. It sees the character Danny Embling at a 1965 country boarding school where he does not fit in due to his uninterested in sports and his unusually higher intelligence. When a new girl enters the all girls boarding school situated across the lake from the boy’s school, things change for Danny. This girl, Thandiwe Adjewa, is an outcast due to her skin colour and Ugandan nationality as well as a greater knowledge of the world.  It is their common situation as an outcast that originally draws them together. They have a natural connection that leads from friendship and general respect to love. They are separated by the wars that where raging in Africa in the 1960’s by the viewer is left at the end of the film that there may be hope that they can get together again.

Synopsis: At the beginning of the movie Flirting the viewer is presented with the main character Danny’s voice introducing you to the Boys boarding school St Alban’s where he is completing his high school education. The strict teachers with a love for the cane, the rugby playing bullies and being surrounded by people twenty four hours a day makes life for Danny uncomfortable. Though when a new girl, Thandiwe Adjewa, enters the all girl’s school situated over the lake from the boys school life starts to improve for Danny. After a brief encounter at a rugby match, Danny and Thandiwe begin to acknowledge that they have some things in common. This is connection is full recognised and acknowledge by both parties at a debate conducted between the two schools. At the end of the debate they agree to meet each other at the dance that is going to happen between their two schools. At the dance they become fast friend and this friendship leads to one or both of them sneaking out of their schools to see one another even if they get caught they could be expelled.

Thandiwe teaches Danny more about the world and the horrors and joys that where involved in it. Danny provides companionship for Thandiwe. They both understand one another and a connection evolves between them which no one else at their age group has. It is only through the tragity of war evolving in Africa that separates them. Though at the end of the film the viewer is given the knowledge that there is a chance that Thandiwe and Danny may get together again and that Danny is at piece with the world and can move on with his life.

Some of your own commentary on the film:
At first I had hesitations about watching this movie. In this age of movies we have been spoiled with “wiz bang” graphics and scripts that take your breath away. When one thinks of the eighties and the mainstream teen movies that where produced then one cringes. That’s why it was a surprise that I could sit back and enjoy the movie Flirting. Being an outcast myself in high school, it was fascinating to watch Noah Taylor work. He does a brilliant job and though he has had some success acting since then I would have loved to see him being given more credit for what he does.
Flirting portrayed a more real version of teenagers then most teen movies do. All the characters have feelings and a conscious and are able to portray them. Some people who only think a movie is good when it has Brad Pitt, a lot of blood or mass amounts of graphics may not enjoy this movie much, but for the rest of us who appreciate human struggles and emotions, I would strongly suggest you watch this movie.

 

Discuss the critical uptake of the film at both the time of its release and subsequently.

Around the time of Flirting’s release in America the reviews that where coming out where all of a positive nature. The film industry had just come out of the eighties where melodramatic teen movies had flooded the industry and a viewer was beginning to feel that one teen movie was just the same as the next one. “But Duigan brings such originality and pure insight in his subject – including Embling’s gossamer courtship of a spunky Ugandan beauty named Thandiwe (Thandie Newton) – that it seems spanking new” (Hinson, 1992). “Duigan constructs his film from various cinematic influences – from dark-humored, surrealistic Lynchian touches, to the flair of Scorsesean stylization – which makes what would otherwise be just another predictable coming-of-age film into a touching, humorous insight into adolescence that transcends time and culture” (Bruce, 1992).

The director and writer John Duigan has a brilliant way of writing about and working with teenagers. He makes the characters believable and this allows the viewer to get involved in the characters decisions and hope they make the right ones (Ebert, 1992). “‘Flirting’ gives even the bullies emotions and feelings. We eventually see the bullies and other school kids appreciate Danny’s relationship, and some even take the hit when an angry teacher suspects immoral behaviour going on” (Spicciati).

Through the reviews in 1992 there where many that where very positive about the casting in this movie. All the three main character played by Noah Taylor, Thandie Newton and Nicole Kidman are credited in doing a brilliant job. Nicole “gets to show her ice queen persona” (DeWolfe), Thandie “truly shines as the lead” (DeWolfe) and Noah “wears Danny’s character like a comfortable coat” (DeWolfe).

In the reviews that came in subsequent years, however, some where less flattering then their predecessors. In the article written by Steve Rhodes in 1996, he states that the “picture is pure formula and reminded me of a dozen other films. The characters are pleasant enough, but very familiar.” He criticizes most of the different aspects of the film, from the script to the music and cinematography. “In many ways the script follows the standard formula, all of the teachers are mean and strict”. “After having no meaningful music in most of the film, even the music comes alive in the end” is a statement some would disagree with as even the song at the beginning of the dance has meaning if the viewer listens to the lyrics.

 

Outline the circumstances of its production and release and its box-office (if available).

The film Flirting was intended to be the second film in the Danny Embling trilogy written by John Duigan, though the third movie in the trilogy has not been made. Even though this movie is a sequel, the viewer does not need to see the first movie, The Year my voice Broke, to understand and appreciate the second as it is able to stand on its own two feet.

Flirting did well in the box-office in Australia in the year it was released, coming forth highest out of all the Australian movies at a total of $1550000. When Flirting was released in the USA the following year (1992) it grossed a grand total of $2415396. With those totals, it is a curious thing that the third movie in the trilogy was not made.

Situate the film in relation to the subsequent or prior work principally of the director and perhaps the cinematographer, writers lead actors and producers.

The director John Duigan debut film was The Firm Man (1975) though it was the two films that followed, The Trespasser (1976) and Mouth to Mouth (1978) that allowed him to get noticed. Previous to Flirting Duigan made the first film in this trilogy The Year My Voice Broke (1988). Between The Year My Voice Broke and Flirting, he also made a film by the name of Romero (1989).  Since Flirting Duigan has had some success with films like Sirens (1993), The Journey of August King (1995) and Lawn Dogs (1997). More recent films of Duigan’s include Molly (1999), Paranoid (2000), The Parole Officer (2001) and Head in the Clouds (2004).

All the three actors of the major characters have gone on to have varying degrees of success. Noah Taylor has gone on to appear in films such as Shine (1996), Almost famous (2000), The Lara Croft movies (2001 & 2003) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). Thandie Newton has gone on to films such as Interviews with a Vampire (1994), Beloved (1998), Mission Impossible 2 (2000), and The Truth about Charlie (2002). Nicole Kidman, well the name almost says everything. Just to name a few, Nicole has gone on to make movies such as Batman Forever (1995), Practical Magic (1998), Moulin Rouge! (2001), The Hours (2002), Cold Mountain (2004) and Australia which is due for release soon. Another actor that though she had a small role in this film is worth a mention is Naomi Watts who has gone on to take the US but storm, staring in movies such as King Kong.

 

Use the film to estimate what its uptake and current place on the contemporary critical and market horizons tells you of the general position of Australian film and its value.

After the Hollywood dominance of the mainstream cinemas up until the Australian film industry reappeared in 1971, Australian films have struggled to make it into the mainstream cinemas. From the end of the eighties till the middle of the nineties, however, some Australian films have made it big in Hollywood. Flirting was one of these, grossing more at the US box-office then the Australian box-office. In this time period Australia started to export good actors to the US and Brittain. Actors such as Geoffrey Rush have made a name for them self over in USA but have found it beneficial for their careers to return to Australia to make the occasional flim like Shine. These actors returning has slowly but surely helped the Australian film industry get back on its feet.

The Australian Film Industry is still no that strong. So believe that we produce too wired a films and that Australia needs to produce films more like the Americans. Though many experts in the film industry believe that Americas days are numbered as they keep producing the same films over and over though they just put a different label on it and rotate the actors around. With the correct amount of planning, more money pumped into the industry and greater recognition for those who do produce good films in Australia so they do not keep disappearing overseas, the Australian film industry stands a chance of “staying alive” and evolving into a force to be reckoned with.

 

Situate the film in relation to Australian cinema as a particular type of film and as belonging to a genre or genres.

Flirting is defiantly a coming-of–age film. All the characters are at that stage of adolescence where one is discovering who they are, where they fit into society, what love and sex is and what their sexuality is. The two main characters of Danny and Thandiwe fall in love with each other, discover sex and the disappointments of life and how things don’t always go as planned and all one can do is hope for the best.

Coming-of-age films, if produced well, are very suited to Australia. Australia is a relatively young country and is still in many ways finding its feet and working out what exactly Australia is. The protagonist is always a battler and a major characteristic of Australia is the little Aussie Battler. They never say died until things start improving and going their way. There is also a small reference through the film to Thandiwe and how she is from a different country and culture. Australia is a multicultural society and this is a fact that we pride ourselves on.

 

Reference: