Lowdown: A troubled girl looking for love in a troubled world.
Australian films that are really bad are quite rare. The third Crocodile Dundee installment definitely qualifies, but so far it didn't have any friends in this highly prestigious category. That is, until Somersault came along.
Somersault tells the story of a teenager (Abbie Cornish) who is looking for love and attention. She doesn't get it from her single mother, who is busy making ends meet, so she seeks it with her mother's boyfriend (who, in turn, is more than happy to supply that "love"). When her mother finds them in the thick of it Cornish runs away from her home in Canberra to the town of Jindabyne, which has been the subject of a more recent film (there must be something in the air there).
Cornish looks for a job but instead ends up more like a tramp in order to secure a meal and a place to sleep. Wherever she goes and whoever she stumbles upon she finds distorted characters who, while better off financially, have their own problems - often very nasty ones.
Overall, Somersault is a very depressing film. Can you say this is a bad thing? Not really, because that is obviously the film's intention, yet it is so depressing that you can't be expected to actually enjoy it for its artistic values. Not when it's also relatively boring and too surrealistic - with all sorts of weird scenes thrown in (say, Cornish playing around with items she finds in a dumpster or scenes where everything is tainted blue). For most of the film you're asking yourself what it is that they're trying to say there; only towards the end things seem to sort themselves up a bit, but I felt that by then it was a case of a lost cause. If I have to pinpoint at anything specific, it's just that the general collection of miserable characters Cornish ends up meeting is just too miserable to pass as true. Credibility is probably the word to use here.
An interesting point about Somersault is that some of the shots of Jindabyne Lake seem like carbon copies of similar scenes from the film Jindabyne. I don't know if the films are related, but at least Somersault was the first to be released.
Most troubling scenes: The film is quite abundant with nudity, which seems to get more frequent as the film progresses. While usually I won't complain against that, Cornish's character seems so young that I found those scenes very troubling: it was as if I was watching a very young girl, way too young for me to want to view in the nude. I don't know if that's just me being weird, but I suspect it was the intention of the director for me to feel this way. The point is that I think this is a good indicator of the type of feelings Somersault intends to steer in its viewers.
Overall: Too disturbing to be enjoyable, too weird, too boring. 1 out of 5 stars.