"A movingly poetic modern fable that is right on target."
Australian director John Duigan is the master of hit and miss cinema. When he hits (The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting), he hits hard, but when he misses (Wide Sargasso Sea, Sirens, The Journey Of August King), the results can be profoundly ugly.His new film, the American set Lawn Dogs, is a movingly poetic modern fable that is right on target.
Trent (charismatic star in the making Rockwell) is a working class outsider who mows lawns for suburban arseholes on the tidy estate of Camelot Gardens. Treated like dirt by his employers, he keeps to himself until he is befriended by ten year old Devon (a richly layered performance from first timer Barton), a troubled young girl who acts out by pissing on her father's car and playing with his gun.
Though innocent, their growing bond eventually draws fire from her hypocritical, soul-dead parents (Thelma And Louise's professional bastard McDonald and Apollo 13's Quinlan) and the other residents. Bigotry, paranoia and sexual tension send the film hurtling toward a devastating climax.
Working from a script by playwright and poet Naomi Wallace, Duigan has crafted a rich and wholly satisfying coming of age tale. Elements of the Southern Gothic, surrealism, morality tale, social comment and character study combine to create a truly individual and original experience. Duigan directs with an admirable light touch while still managing to create visual poetry out of the seemingly antiseptic suburban surrounds. Under this pretty surface lies a sense of unease that keeps the film crackling with danger, almost recalling the work of David Lynch in its unsettling juxtaposition of beauty and horror.Moving, incisive and visually striking, Lawn Dogs shows Duigan in
cuttingly good form. A low key gem, Lawn Dogs is a film that manages to mesmerise with its quiet power and heightened sense of wonder. ---Erin Free