Monday, 25 October 2010

My Year Without Sex

Lowdown: An ordinary Aussie family deals with the mother’s recovery from stroke.
Review:
Movie reviews indicated My Year Without Sex (MYWS) is one of those low key Australian films that deliver, and indeed we’ve found this to be the case with this 2009 release.
Set at Melbourne’s western suburbs, MYWS follows a very average Aussie family. Average in all respects: composition (father, mother, boy, girl), dwelling, financial situation, attitude to sports, friends et al. Even aspects like the typical for Australia long distances between family members are covered, with the grandparents relocating to the Gold Coast for retirement. Yet upon this ordinary family lands an extraordinary event when the mother suffers from a stroke. Luckily for her, that happens while she’s visiting a doctor, and thus she’s able to survive an event most people don’t. She is, however, yellow carded: she needs to take things easy, avoid physical effort, and as the name of the film implies – avoid sex. The rest of the film follows the family though the next year of their lives.
MYWS works as a simple touching film, but it also deals with ideas that are at the center of the Aussie experience as well as the center of most human families. First there is the question of what a family is, as we are presented with a family friend who keeps on dumping wives in favor of younger ones while fathering children from previous marriages (and while being financially well off, in contrast to the hero family). The main discussion, though, is on how bad things can happen to those who do good things and how failure can happen even if you mean well and make a genuine effort. Yet, as the film demonstrates, by joining forces even those bad events can be overcome, to one extent or another. The overall message is probably "don’t approach life expecting perfection".
There is some misfiring in the film, too. A lot of the discussion in this short hour and a half film has to do with faith [in the supernatural], as in religion’s role during times of stress. On the positive side, and as further evidence this is an Australian rather than an American film, the conclusion reached by the film is towards the agnostic side of things. That said, any time wasted on the powers of the supernatural is time wasted in my book. Come on, you can’t be objective and accept god as a source of comfort when times are bad given that it’s the same god that put you in dire straits in the first place.
Best scene: The father is late picking the son up from the cinema, and the son is there on his own as what seems to be a child molester starts harassing him. I found the scene funny because it uses the molester’s barracking for the Pies (Collingwood Magpies, an Australian Rules team) to establish that he’s a baddie. Most Melbournians would instantly agree with this approach.
Technical assessment: A poor DVD. I understand if such a film with its limited budget doesn’t sport a mighty soundtrack, but why should the picture lean towards VHS quality as opposed to high definition?
Overall: Charming in its authenticity. 3 out of 5 stars.

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