Sunday, October 21, 2007

Do or Die: Grade A


Do or Die (2001)

Tom Long, Kate Ashfield, Hugo Speer. Director Rowan Woods. Australian.

This older Aussie TV miniseries is now out on DVD and it is worth a look, despite the fact that it really should have English subtitles for those of us who do not speak Australian. I lost about a quarter of the dialog into the accents. And it does have the tinny feel of television, especially in its abrupt edits and implausible, melodramatic story. Despite these flaws, excellent acting by the principals and sharp dialog, makes the overall product quite good. In upper middle class London, Ashfield’s young boy is diagnosed with a leukemia that only transplanting white blood cells from the father can treat. This situation forces the mother to reveal that her husband (Speer) is not the father. The real father (Long) is a convict in Australia. She goes looking for him, but he escapes from prison just before she arrives. She must find him before the police gun him down. Several twists and turns ensue. Tom Long as the convict father is tremendous. His scowl through furrowed brow is wonderful, and he has a great screen look. He also shows subtlety of expression equal to Ashfield’s, so while the characters are somewhat flat, the project stays grounded, never escaping into cartoon land. Very high end TV!

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