AUSTRALIAN rules football is one of the hardest sports to make a movie about.
Not only is it a sport that only one country in the world plays professionally, but the simple uniform of a jumper, footy shorts and boots means actors can’t hide underneath helmets or be privy to long shots like gridiron, golf or baseball.
Director Richard Gray has worked hard with legends (including Glenn Archer and Sam Kekovich) of the Australian game to produce a film that has good football action, looks at the politics within a club and also allows the actors to show their foot skills.
Like Summer Coda, Blinder is filmed in a regional area. The film follows the Torquay Tigers as they go from reigning premiers to a scandal-ridden club.
The plot follows the reuniting of key players and members of the club as they return to town 10 years later.
It is clear the main inspiration for the story is the sex, drugs and football side of sport and the St Kilda schoolgirl scandal where an underage girl becomes too involved with the club.
Leading the actors is Jack Thompson and Oliver Ackland.
Thompson plays the strict and passionate coach who controls the team.
Ackland is an up-and-coming player who is expected to be drafted to the AFL.
Josh Helman, Bob Morley and the entertaining Angus Sampson also have roles as players potentially involved with the scandal.
Anna Hutchison and Rose McIver (recognisable from The Lovely Bones) are the two leading ladies who play characters with a key role in the film.
As far as sports films goes, the plot steers away from the run-of-the-mill plot involving redemption and a big trophy.
Gray has worked hard to build depth and familiarity into his characters and it is exectued well.
While the football-playing sequences aren’t polished extremely well, it is important to remember the league Gray has chosen to focus on is a country football league and not a professional one. It allows for more human-error and a less-professional look.
Blinder was also made on a shoestring budget, which makes it all the more impressive.
The last truly great Australian rules football film was the movie version of David Williamson’s The Club and this modern-day football tale can hold it’s own against an experienced and proven opponent.
The Verdict: 3½ stars
- Blinder (M) is now showing at Bendigo Cinemas. See page 3 of the Bendigo Advertiser for details.