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3.57

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Worth A Look85.71%
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1 review, 1 rating


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Three Blind Mice (2009)
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by Jay Seaver

"They do run."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: One night is just enough time. It's enough time to fall in love (or out of it), enough time to get into trouble, and enough time to come to a decision. A lot can change in one night, and this goes double when the next morning will find you heading for a war zone.

That's how far it is for three junior officers in the Royal Australian Navy, checking into a hotel room for a night of shore leave before they sail for the Gulf. As soon as the youngest, Sam (Ewen Leslie) heads for the shower, Harry (Matthew Newton) and Dean (Toby Schmitz) start talking about what happened to Sam on the ship. Dean asks the others along to dinner with his fiancee Sally (Pia Miranda) and her folks, although Sam ditches them after meeting Emma (Gracie Otto), a pretty waitress. This is a bit of a concern, since even before meeting Emma, Sam has called his mother to say he wouldn't be getting back on the ship.

There's another secret or two to be revealed before the night is over and maybe a spot of trouble; poker games and family dinners can be equally dangerous in that regard. Writer/director Matthew Newton doesn't so much keep us guessing about what the night and morning will bring as he gives us chance to see the stakes. Going AWOL doesn't get one locked up for life, but it's obviously deeply shameful from the way Sam bursts into tears when confessing his intended desertion to the way Harry won't let people use the word, lest it get attached to Sam before absolutely necessary - even though it's pretty clear that Harry and Dean were looking to keep an eye on Sam, just in case.

In addition to writing and directing, Newton takes the most flamboyant part. Harry's the wiseass of the group, with a quick wit and a nose for a little fun while he's on leave. He's a kick to watch (and it probably doesn't hurt that he looks like a cross between Leonardo DiCaprio and a young Russell Crowe), and serves as a nice contrast with his shipmates. Leslie takes an interesting approach as Sam, seldom betraying what he must be going through, and never in scenes with Harry and Dean. There's almost a sense at being at peace because he's made a decision. Schmitz, on the other hand, plays Dean as wound just a little tight, a by-the-book type who finds comfort in plans.

As much as the movie lives and dies by the sailors, there's also a nice selection of supporting characters. Chief among them is Emma, whom Gracie Otto (Miranda's younger sister) plays as a bit of a daunting challenge for Sam. She converses like she kicks her soccer ball, moving around the terrain at will without trying to show off how clever she is. She seems charmed by his family (Heather Mitchell as the angry/concerned mother and Charles "Bud" Tingwell as the grandfather in the dark about Sam's plans, both good as well), and unusually good-natured when things take a turn for the weird later on. Pia Miranda plays Sally as pretty close to an ideal girlfriend, even if she does come with, shall we say, excitable parents.

For a young filmmaker (though one who has been acting since childhood), Newton's got a pretty good grasp on the medium. It's a little rough at spots, but the film moves along at a comfortable clip. He's got a real talent for having his characters express themselves at a little length without making speeches, and without using excess profanity as a crutch. He can joke while still taking the character seriously, which is not so easy.

I liked "Three Blind Mice" quite a bit; it didn't feel like a dozen other independent films I'd seen lately. It also tells a good story about folks in the military without bogging itself down with political questions, which is not generally the case these days.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17691&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/23/09 00:19:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/25/10 Johh Appallingly bad lack of knowledge of the Navy spoilt it for me. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  DVD: 23-Feb-2010

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