Film Preview: Cactus, 8 May, Filmhouse, Edinburgh

7 May

*****

Launching the 2009 London Australian Film Festival at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, Cactus is a 2008 thriller from director Jasmine Yuen Carrucan in which the traditional crime story is turned on its head.

Down on his luck, John Kelly (Travis McMahon) accepts a job to kidnap gambler Eli Jones (David Lyons) and take him to the Australian outback.

En route, Kelly meets local policeman Roscoe (Bryan Brown) before discovering that the supposedly simple job he signed up for isn’t going to go quite to plan.

Making full use of the stunning Australian landscape in its opening scenes, the script plays with the viewer for the first third of the film, Kelly’s motives initially uncertain and Jones’ confusion palpable.

Slowly drip-feeding snippets of information to the audience through the sharp dialogue of its two leads, Cactus refuses to offer easy answers or pat exposition.

Humour plays a big part of Cactus. One standout scene, featuring Jones being left in the car and forced to listen to Australian children’s entertainers The Wiggles on the stereo as some sort of torture, will linger long in the memory.

Tense, witty and always engaging, Cactus is a strong start to this new season, evidence that a decent script and quality actors can more than make up for a lack of budget.

Visit the Filmhouse website for screening times.

View the Cactus trailer:

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