Palace Films/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 86 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Although you’d have every right to think it from the title, The Rage in Placid Lake is not some sort of hyper-schlocky horror flick. The Placid Lake in question is actually a person (portrayed, in his film debut, by muso Ben Lee), and the rage is one of those big ball of teen angsty things going supernova with the coming of the end of school and that dreaded, but inevitable, confrontation with the real world.
It may be an idea to get the Dettol ready...
Placid’s life so far has been anything but normal and safe. The son of two clueless, self-obsessed and extremely hippie parents (Miranda Richardson and Garry McDonald), he was sent off to school in a dress when young to challenge preconceived notions of sexuality. Needless to say, considering the level of horridness inherent in all little boys, he got seven shades of snot beaten out of him. However, Placid’s saviour came in another “outsider”, Gemma (Rose Byrne), his soulmate with whom he ended up enduring the whole school thing, happily munching on crayons together while they plummeted headlong towards their futures. The bullying may have never abated, but at least having a kindred spirit along for the ride softened the numerous blows somewhat.
If you can't beat them?
So, with the end of school upon them, future plans have been made. The super-brainy Gemma is being pushed into university by her also clueless father (her mother died when she was young), and Placid is considering a life of travel. That is until he ends up with every bone in his body broken as a consequence of unveiling a rather controversial short film at his school’s year end celebrations. Eventual recovery leads to a change in outlook and plans, and so taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude he gets a haircut, purchases a suit and goes for a conformist life in the scintillating world of insurance. Needless to say his parents are both like super-bummed, while Gemma’s just wondering what the hell’s going on with her best bud…
Despite spending much of its time with a delightful, very Australian air of taking the piss out of everything which moves on and off screen, there are masses of appealing elements of drama, comedy, emotion and warmth in the tradition of the great coming-of-age teen films from the likes of John Hughes and Cameron Crowe at work in The Rage in Placid Lake. While as an actor Ben Lee makes a great musician, the out-thereness which permeates his performance is ultimately fitting for the role of Placid, while Rose Byrne is as brilliant as always (or at least when she’s given a decent role) and Miranda Richardson and Garry McDonald provide a wonderful added dose of insanity. As a debut, this extremely knowing and humorous film from director/writer Tony McNamara (based on his play The Café Latte Kid) hints at much good to come in the future.
OK then, stick it in.
Everything bursts to life wonderfully in a very decent 2.35:1, anamorphically enhanced transfer. There’s a certain colouring that’s unique to Australia, and this comes through well in the many day lit outdoors scenes, while the sterility of the office environment is rendered perfectly, as is basically everything else that presents itself in front of the lens. General detail is good without being super-dooper sharp, and there’s little to find fault with in the way of shadow detail when it’s called upon.
The usual two choices are on offer in the audio department, Dolby Digital stereo for those with more basic systems, and Dolby Digital 5.1 for those who are suitably equipped. Either way it doesn’t really matter, as there’s not a whole lot of surround action to be had other than the odd sweep or swoop here and there, while the subwoofwoof remains pretty much in Sleepy-bobos Land throughout. All is clear and synched perfectly, however, and there are no battles between the generally gentle, acoustic-tinged tunes and dialogue to be heard.
A few bonuses grace us with their presence, although none of them are particularly exciting. These consist of a 17-snap photo gallery, very brief biographies on five of the cast and two of the crew and a 4:3 ratio trailer which clocks in at 2:18. There are also four extra trailers for other Palace films, including the much talked about Japanese Story.
If you’ve ever felt yourself a square peg in a veritable ocean of round holes, then The Rage in Placid Lake should bring much comfort, not only in knowing you’re anything but alone in being different from “the norm”, but also that’s it’s something to ultimately be grateful for. Even if, sometimes, it makes life bloody hard.
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "