Film Review: Three Summers

Three Summers feels altogether forced and contrived, with a few nice performances and good intentions ground down by sheer irksomeness, as major contemporary themes are explored with brownie-point-scoring desperation and the large cast wanders around mostly mugging.

The latest from Ben Elton (his first feature film as writer and director since 2000’s very British Maybe Baby), this is influenced by his longtime love for Australia which, of course, has much to do with his muso wife Sophie Gare being a true-blue Aussie.

As the title suggests, it all takes place over three annual folk music festivals somewhere outside Perth, and follows two young ‘uns who are sure to swoon over each other right from the word go. Roland (Irish actor Robert Sheehan, still best-known as one of UK TV’s Misfits) is a fairly pretentious part-time dog-washer who’s brought his ‘Theremin Revolution’ show to play before small audiences, and he meets cute with Keevey (Rebecca Breeds), a talented fiddle-player who genuinely blows his fuses early on.

They’re quite an appealing pair, but Elton surrounds them with an improbable army of types who you can’t help but feel would never be all in the same place at the same time. There’s: Keevey’s boozy musician Dad (John Waters — the Aussie one, not the Baltimore one), who’s often pursued by an AA counsellor (Deborah Mailman); a Morris Dancer granddad played with a little ham by Michael Caton; a busload of indigenous teen dancers whose leader (Kelton Pell) delivers angry speeches about white invasion that provoke polite applause; a Muslim foster kid named Jafar (Amay Jain); a riot-grrl-like band called Feminasty; Queenie (Magda Szubanski), a local radio personality given to bad John Lennon impressions and regular apologies for “fruity language”; and many more.

They’re hardly a dinky-di lot and, despite all the concessions made for slightly hand-wringing multiculturalism, they’re all so bleedin’ Ocker (Sheehan excluded) that you could scream. Strewth!

Rated M. Three Summers is in cinemas now.

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