Simon and Robyn barely have time to contemplate their perfect lives with their happy marriage and beautiful new house when they come face to face with the less than perfect past. While shopping at a department store Simon bumps into an old classmate named Gordo, though it takes a while for him to recognise him. When a bottle of expensive wine shows up on their doorstep from Gordo, they are left wondering how he got the address but nonetheless invite him over for dinner to say thank you for the house-warming gift. But pretty soon Gordo starts frequently showing up uninvited with stranger and stranger gifts, and when Simon tries to break off their unwanted friendship, things start to get scary. Threatening notes are left, Robyn's fish are suddenly dead and their house is being vandalised. Robyn starts to become seriously suspicious of her husband when the suggestion of an uncomfortable past between the two men arises, and she's desperate to find out what happened before things get out of hand.
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This may not be the brightest thriller in the cinema, but it's made with such a ripping sense of energy that it's thoroughly entertaining. With his first feature, Australian filmmaker Julius Avery packs the screen with intense characters, raucous set-pieces and suggestions of all kinds of metaphorical meaning. He also assembles a terrific cast of actors willing to chomp merrily on the scenery. So even if the movie never actually cracks the surface, it's a true guilty pleasure.
Set in Western Australia, the film centres on 19-year-old JR (Brenton Thwaites), who begins a six-month stint in prison with a determination to rise to the top. His bravado nearly gets him killed, but he boldly aligns himself with notorious criminal Brendan (Ewan McGregor), and in exchange for protection inside JR agrees to help Brendan from the outside. Sure enough, in six months Brendan launches an audacious prison break, after which he and Brendan get to work with dodgy mobster Sam (Jacek Koman) on an even more elaborate gold heist. JR is loving the gangster lifestyle but still refuses to follow the rules, which puts him on a collision course with Sam as he openly flirts with Sam's prized moll Tasha (Alicia Vikander). Now JR thinks he can steal Tasha, ditch Brendan and get away with the gold. As if.
Yes, the film is a web of double-crosses and betrayals, none of which is much of a surprise. All of the final act's twists and turns are loudly announced early on, as are the strained metaphors of chess-playing criminals and father-son mentoring. Avery's script and direction constantly suggest that nothing is what it seems, although it's hard not to see what's really going on. But what's on-screen is so much fun that we don't mind at all. Thwaites, McGregor, Vikander and Koman all have a great time playing with our expectations. Each character is cocky and sure that they're in control, when it's clear that they're not. And the sparks between them make each scene sizzle.
Continue reading: Son of a Gun Review
A young man, JR (Brendan Thwaites) is only 19-years-old when he finds himself in an Australian prison. There, he comes under the protection of Australia's Public Enemy number one, Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor). In exchange for not being ganged up on or killed in prison, JR is going to have to help Lynch as soon as he is released from prison. This begins with a daring rescue attempt to break Lynch out, and then moves into a plot to steal a vast amount of gold. When JR's attention is diverted, Lynch reveals that their partnership may, in fact, be coming to an end.
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JR (Brendan Thwaites) is receiving a lesson from his protector, Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor) over a game of chess. Lynch reveals that when an old friend of his performed a stunning opening movie during a game, no one knew what hit them. This move in particular was a bold one, and ensured that there would be no draw in the game from that start. Lynch revealed the true meaning of the lesson - there were to be no half measures. Later, JR wakes up in the house of his protectors, knowing that they are going to be angry after a date he went on. When he reveals that all he did was have dinner with a girl, Lynch informs him how if anything had gone on, an associate would have killed both JR and the girl. There are no half measures; if you are in the group, you are IN the group.
'Son of a Gun' is the feature debut of director Julius Avery. The film is set in and was filmed in Australia, and premiered in Australia on 16th October 2014. It is due to be released in the US on 16th January 2015, with a UK release following on 30th January.
'The Rover', directed by award winning director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), is a dystopian crime drama set in the near future, where crime is commonplace and there is no authority to stop it. This has drawn Mad Max comparisons. Michôd wrote the film with Joel Edgerton, who featured in Michôd's highly acclaimed Animal Kingdom.
Staring Guy Pearce (who's previously worked with Michôd in Animal Kingdom, as well as staring in Memento), Robert Pattinson (Remember Me/Cosmopolis) and Scoot McNairy (12 Years A Slave/Argo). 'The Rover' sees former Australian soldier Eric (Pearce) give up on the world after seeing society fall, but when his only possession is stolen, he sets out to hunt down the ones responsible. Reynolds (Pattinson) was with the thieves, but is abandoned by them in a car accident, so Eric uses him to help track down the thieves. Eric has nothing left to lose and will therefore do anything in his power to retrieve what is precious to him.
'The Rover' will be released in UK cinemas through Entertainment One on August 22nd 2014.
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