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  Directed by
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • None
  • Teaser trailer - Yolngu Boy, The Best Man's Wedding
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus

Australian Rules (Rental)

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . M15+ . PAL


Prospect Bay, South Australia: fishing community, “Tidy Town” runner-up, racial pressure cooker, premiership contender. The local Aussie rules team has the opportunity to win the town’s first flag in 38 years, and the charges of Coach Arks (Kevin Harrington, so nicknamed due to his seemingly uniquely Australian inability to pronounce the word “ask” properly) are feeling the pressure – especially with their ruckman having just been carted off to prison. Average player Gary ‘Blacky’ Black (Nathan Phillips) is given ruck duties for the big game – despite his lack of stature and, indeed, talent, while everybody just hopes that his team mate and object of lust for footy talent scouts countrywide, Dumby (Luke Carroll), can perform his usual magic and save the day.

Despite Arks’ best intentions and somewhat uniquely limited coaching style – foregoing any form of ball skills in favour of going “straight down the guts” at all times - it’s Blacky’s Mum (and part-time footy strategist it would seem) who helps the team to win the flag – and not only due to her son’s inadvertent run-in with a megalithic opposition player known as ‘The Thumper’. Jubilant at grabbing the glory, the team’s celebrations carry on all day and on to the annual team presentation night, when that racism rears its hideous head during the awards, as Dumby – who happens to be aboriginal – is basically robbed of his ‘best on ground’ medal.

What starts out as quite an amusing, for the most part quite light-hearted story takes a definite lunge to the darker side at this point, with those signs of intolerance between black and white that had been ever-present until now let loose with devastating consequences, involving Blacky’s father (Simon Westaway) – a pig-ignorant, boorish, wife-beating, drunken, utterly useless prick of a “man”. And when his son falls for Dumby’s sister, Clarence (Lisa Flanagan), well...

Based upon the novel Deadly, Unna? by Phillip Gwynne, and adapted for the screen by same, Australian Rules is another in a pleasing stream of uniquely local productions to have emerged over the past couple of years. Skilfully playing with our emotions and comfort zones, and bringing to the fore the racist problems that are sadly still so rife in our supposedly enlightened society today – and it isn’t always as one-sided as many may think - it’s given so much extra life by the three young leads, who are left to carry the bulk of the drama. Oh, and after this you’re unlikely to ever look at Beau (of tyre flogging fame) in the same way ever again...


Having been opened up slightly from the cinematic ratio of 1.85:1 to one of 1.78:1, and anamorphically enhanced, this is a fantastic transfer of a beautifully shot film. While many may be expecting an array of niggles due to the film’s relatively low budget, what pops up on screen for the most part looks amazing – there’s little in the way of specks, only a modicum of aliasing and virtually no grain. Things definitely have that sunburnt Aussie look to them, delivered via a palette that seems pretty much unique to this country, but it isn’t so affected as to make things look out of whack at all. Detail is high, pleasingly also in darker scenes, and overall this bodes well for the eventual retail release.


If the picture’s a pleasant surprise, you should hear the soundtrack! Helped along no end by an incredibly moody, haunting and rumble-infested score from Bad Seed Mick Harvey, there’s plenty of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround action and much for the subwoofwoof to get involved in. Be it musical rumblings or the donks of Toranas, this is a much more active soundtrack in the bass department than many of much higher budgets, but it’s also never showy or unrealistic sounding. Dialogue comes from up front as it should, and is both well-synched and perfectly clear. There’s also a perfectly suitable Dolby Digital stereo mix included, however if you have the means the 5.1 version is the way to go.


Despite the promotional slick we received proclaiming the presence of extras such as outtakes, behind the scenes footage, biographies and a gallery, there are but four trailers served up on this disc. Perhaps we now know what’s coming on the retail release then? As well as remarkably similar international and local trailers for Australian Rules (1.78:1, Dolby Digital stereo), we get ones for The Best Man’s Wedding and also Yolngu Boy.


If you appreciate confronting local drama with touches of that uniquely Aussie sense of humour, then don’t handball this one off to somebody else - Australian Rules is another riveting film at a time which seems to be becoming somewhat of a renaissance in local filmmaking, and is more than deserving of a night’s rental.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2258
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      And I quote...
    "Skilfully playing with our emotions and comfort zones, Australian Rules is a riveting film..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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