Mmegi Blogs :: Accidents Happen
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Accidents Happen

Two dysfunctional families interact - Accidents Happen (2009) is available on DVD. It is an Australian movie, filmed on locations around Sydney, all arranged to appear as suburban Connecticut, north of New York City, so as to hopefully gain access to the huge movie market in the United States.
By Staff Writer Thu 31 Oct 2013, 13:48 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Accidents Happen








The young director is Andrew Lancaster, for whom this is his first feature film. It is based on an autobiographical screenplay by Brian Carbee, and has two stars that stand out. The first is Geena Davis, the tall, thin, angular beauty (1.83 metres), a daughter of Massachusetts, famous for her roles in Beetlejuice (1988) and Accidental Tourist (1988). In all, she has appeared in only a dozen and a half films. Now 56 years old, she is the mature woman fit to star in a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family.  

The movie is actually about two dysfunctional families, neighbours in suburbia, the Conways and the Posts. Aren't all families dysfunctional by definition?The other actor who carries the film is Harrison Gilbertson, born 20 years ago in Adelaide, Australia. In 2009, he was selected to play the 15-year-old Billy Conway, the glue that holds his troubled family together. He does this amazingly well. Mrs Smolensky (Wendy Playfair) does nothing to interfere in the combustion and fiery end of her flagrant, abusive, alcoholic husband. Billy, playing in a sprinkler, thinks he should have done something to save Mr Smolensky.Accidents Happen opens when Billy Conway (acted by Karl Beattie) is six years old.  A car accident causes the death of his favourite sibling, Linda Conway (Ivy Latimer). He feels responsible for it. 

Fast-forward 11 years. The Conways and Posts are still neighbours, but things are changing. Bill (now played by Harrison Gilbertson) still has a sense of guilt that helps to keep him on the straight and narrow path, to be a good boy, supporting both his grieved mother and aggrieved father. Now 15, life is changing. Along with his neighbour and best friend, Doug Post (Sebastian Gregory), he dares to cross the line into challenging anti-social behaviour, like streaking in a major store downtown and bowling ball street rolling at night down empty suburban roads. The streaking gets wide publicity. In avoiding the Bowling Ball, Doug's obese father, Tiny Post (Troy Planet) dies in a fiery crash. It is found to be suicide by the police, and the insurance company refuses to pay the Post family compensation for their father's death. Doug and his sister, pot loving Katrina Post (Morgan Griffin), actually welcomed their father's demise, while Tiny's wife, Dotty Post (Sarah Woods), was ambivalent about the loss of her husband.  Gloria Conway

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(Geena Davis, in her first role in seven years) is struggling to stay on top of the challenges of her circumscribed life.

Her husband, father of all of her children, Ray (Joel Tobeck) has finally left. He has found a younger woman to love and does not want to look back on his first family. Her frustrations with her sons failing to live up to her expectations will introduce a bout of dish throwing. The sharp-tongued Gloria is left with an alcoholic first son who tries to play straight, Larry Conway (Harry Cook). Another son is institutionalised, the catatonic Gene Conway (Johnny Kenos). Does he hear what Billy says to him when he visits him in the hospice? Gene has a masterful stare, never blinking, his eyes never moving. All that he can see is within and it is perhaps not nice?  Even when visiting Gene, Billy and his friend Dough cannot resist playing adolescent shenanigans on his caregivers. Is life worth living if you cannot poke fun at it?Back at home, Gloria still struggles. Her release is going to Bingo with Dotty Post. I always thought Bingo was the essential Australian escape, rather than for suburban Connecticut. Billy still tries to hoe a straight row at home, even cooking meals for his over-reactive mother and abusive brother. He will also find a new attraction in Katrina Post, who may eventually reciprocate his attentions out of the depth of her isolation.

At first the movie's framework, structured around how accidents can alter people's lives, does not seem to work.  The beginning sequences appear absurd, replete with dark humour.  Then it all begins to make sense, and entertain. It helps to sort out quickly who is who - that is the members of the two families, Conways and Posts.  If the viewers fail to do that from the beginning, they may get lost in all the relationships and haranguing.

Accidents Happen is one hour and 28 minutes long. It is rated 15+ because of language and accidents.  The director is Andrew Lancaster.  The personal-experience script is by Brian Carbee.  The cinematographer is Ben Nott.  The editor is Roland Gallos.  The music is by Anthony Parto.  The narrator is Tyler Coppin.

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