in Placid Lake (Australia;
directed by: Tony McNamara
starring: Ben Lee; Rose Byrne; Miranda Richardson
Barbara says: "At first I thought this was going to be 'Napoleon Dynamite Grows Up' but it was much more. The underlying themes about the parental relationship with each other and with Placid as well as the over the top Icarus Insurance Agency make it more interesting. Ben Lee is good as Placid Lake but I thought Rose Byrne as Gemma and Miranda Richardson as Placid’s mother were wonderful.
"I am trying to figure out why I liked it so much. It could be that
we view so many serious films that when you get to laugh quite a bit,
movie is more appealing to you. 4 cats"
|Michael says: "**SPOILERS**
"This quirky little film was trés amusing, a little amusing, a strangely reminiscent of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Placid is a young man with decidedly unconventional parents, who has made it through high school with one equally odd friend in Gemma, and a trio of nemeses who have made his youth something of a living hell. When a short flight from the roof of his school to the pavement below ends up breaking every bone in his body, Placid decides it’s time for a change.
"Upon emergence from the hospital, he gets a haircut, buys a suit and gets a job at Icarus Insurance. Thinking it will please his friend Gemma, and feeling this is the only chance that he can calm the tide of raging emotion within him, he decides to live a conventional life.
"Unfortunately, Gemma is not pleased, nor are his parents, who feel that Placid has made a deal with Satan himself by entering the corporate world of insurance. As Placid struggles to maintain his new persona, we are treated to a decidedly wacky coming-of-age tale peppered with inventively oddball characters and lessons that aren’t quite so Hollywood-ized.
"Pop singer Ben Lee makes his film debut as Placid, and his slightly left-of-center, diminutive appearance work well for him. Rose Byrne (STAR WARS: EPISODE II – ATTACK OF THE CLONES; I CAPTURE THE CASTLE; WICKER PARK) is adorably sarcastic as crayon-eating genius Gemma. Garry McDonald (MOULIN ROUGE!; RABBIT PROOF FENCE) and the talented Miranda Richardson (THE CRYING GAME; SPIDER; THE HOURS) are a hoot as Placid’s free-thinking, hippy parents. Richardson particularly captures a lovely combination of freak-parent-from-hell and concerned, loving parent trying to do the best she can through a haze of self-involvement and uncertainty. She may be up for Best Supporting Actress for me. First-time feature writer/director Tony McNamara builds a lovely and funny portrait of misfits, not unlike NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, that doesn’t seem quite as mainstream. Maybe it’s the Australian accents.
This film was distributed by Film Movement, which continues to impress by picking up well-made films that just don’t have a chance getting wider distribution. I know they’ve had some problems with promotional follow-through at the Coolidge, but I wish them the best of luck with their endeavor to get independent films into more hands. 4 cats"
|Bruce says: "THE RAGE IN PLACID LAKE is an Australian
counterpart to NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Both Placid and Napoleon are perpetual
outsiders (some might call them social misfits) whom others use as entertainment,
making them the brunt of jokes or using them as punching bags. Placid,
like Napoleon, is on a journey to discover how, if ever, he might fit into
a world that has never indicated there is a place for him. In his words,
'the self I love, society takes a severe dislike to.'
"For a class project, Placid produces a film called 'Life is Super Dooper,' which is a sappy, sentimental view of the community and school. He wins first prize which will give him enough money to escape to Montana. When the film is shown to the entire community at the awards ceremony it is a totally different film showing the meanness and superficiality of teachers, his parents and fellow students. Everyone is shocked including Placid’s parents – although they are mostly shocked to learn Placid is so creative. No award, no Montana.
"The turning point for Placid is the very end of his senior year when he falls from the top of a school building after harassment from some of his classmates who find ridiculing Placid a favourite pastime. The fall is responsible for all of Placid’s bones being broken. Suddenly, Placid resembles THE MUMMY. To say that Placid’s parents (Miranda Richardson and Garry McDonald) followed an alternative lifestyle might temper the new age/hippie reality that Placid is desperate to escape. They view Placid’s accident as 'a sign' and Placid does, too. A sign that it is time to conform and be like other people, a concept his parents find hard to follow.
"Placid sneaks out of the house one day and gets a job at Icarus Insurance. His boss (Christopher Stollery) thinks Placid is an original thinker and he becomes a Fast Tracker. When he tells his parents he is promoted Placid gets an 'Oh My God' response but no praise. The only person who Placid has ever felt close to is his childhood friend Gemma (Rose Byrne) who is a child genius treated by her father as a commodity destined for scientific greatness rather than a human being. The bond between them is strong but as they grow up it becomes strained, particularly after Placid discovers sex and romance at the office.
"THE RAGE IN PLACID LAKE is excellent satire of a culture that values greed, blind ambition, and conformity at the expense of individuality and common decency. As Placid, Ben Lee is perfectly cast. As he makes his transition from gawky teenager to the young businessman with a future he is very convincing. Christopher Stollery plays his boss with a pompous, groveling air. Rose Byrne as Gemma did not have the spark I would like to have seen; as a result, her relationship with Placid was not as interesting as it should have been. The incomparable Miranda Richardson has fun with her over-the-top mothering, totally ignoring normal boundaries between child and parent. 4 cats"
|Chris says: "A slightly more cerebral NAPOLEON DYNAMITE by way of Candide? This quirky, occasionally clever Australian comedy is about the lengths some people will go to find acceptance and be 'normal,' only to realize -- well, you know the conclusion. Fortunately, that doesn't distract from the fun of watching young rocker Ben Lee exude geeky charisma in the title role or Rose Byrne credibly act in a film bereft of CGI or even Miranda Richardson have a ball as Placid's emphatic (if oblivious) hippy mother. When the satire's sharp-witted (most delectably in both equally uproarious versions of Placid's award-winning student film), director Tony McNamara's scrappy debut's a hoot. 3.5 cats"|
|Diane says: "Can't say I liked it. Another one of those just-under-the-funny-line movies (HUCKABEES, STEVE ZISSOU) that give me an unpleasant feeling. 2 cats."|
|Beth Caldwell says: "I agree Diane. It may as well have
been a hollywood teenager
blockbuster. The whole - 'my parents don't believe in me' thing is so unbelievably stale. Especially picking on those poor hippy parents. I must admit though, that I did laugh when they decided to read to their son from NADER when he was going astray! :)"