Go West

February 25, 2008

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Daniel Krige’s West is a great low budget Oz flick. I viddy’d it recently and would have to add it to my top ten list of last year, so let’s make it a top elevan.

Set in Sydney’s dreaded Western Suburbs its about two handsome cousins who fall for the same girl and pussy trouble ensues involving speed, gang fights, murder, drug deals and other forms of sordid mischief. You know what I really liked about this film? It’s unflinching portrayal of the low lives of its protagonists. Kham Chittenden plays Pete and Nathan Phillips portrays Jerry two Westy neer do wells who smoke pot, hang at the pub and bum around under a bridge. When Pete gets bashed by a local thug and his stash of pot stolen, he turns to pushing and taking speed to make up for it. Meanwhile, Jerry is fucking local slut Cheryl… who Pete also has the hots for. Cheryl is a classic Westy tart who attracts our two knights in Shining Coldoroy. Jerry is fucking her, then he gets a job at the local fast food Emporium and then Pete takes over, as he is around more, moving the Lou Reed. When accosted again by the guy who bashed him, Pete, Cheryl and his drug dealer boss turn the tables on the assailant thug. Pete then beats the guy to death with a lead pipe at Cheryl’s ‘on heat’ behest. Cut to Pete and Cheryl’s post murder love making session.

It’s all fairly sordid but thats the point. Like Alkinos Tsilimidos excellent Em4jay and the early shorts and new feature of Jason Turley this film provides a non PC portrait of just how ugly things can get in some parts of the Australian back waters.

Sometimes as I read the political ideas of Burke, De Maistre, Bataille and Schmitt, I forget how uncouth and lacking in sophisitication the average Australian male is. Betrayed by the socialist state’s education system and by Capitalism’s enframing emptiness, they are left deserted like detritus in societies gutters. This film is brave for telling their tale in all its true ontological grimness.

Jerry looks up at some graffitti that says “Paradise”. Some shitty graffitti under the gloomy bridge they hang out in. Its an important epiphany moment in the film. A hopeless world is what these boys inhabit. Sold out by their fellow country men and forced to live hopeless lives of not so quite desperation. Jerry kills himself after taking the rap for Pete’s crime and then Pete still turns himself in.

The truly wretched lives of many young Australian comrades whose only option is either a job at McDonald’s or dealing pot is fully comprehended here in West.

Who could free these young men from their sorry existence? What political force could unite this poor underclass that seethes with anger and teach them to fight those who profit from their misery? These are the kind of political questions that one is left with, after watching this  tale of urban hopelessness. Director Daniel Krige must be congratulated for his solid direction and uncompromising vision. Ditto all the leads for strong performances in demanding roles. We live in hope of the day when a ‘settling of the accounts’ is in order for those for have promoted an economic and social system that so ignores the plight of its fit, virile and healthy male youth, forced by social circumstance into their ring of fire, whilst still this side of the ole man River Styx.

West is out now on DVD through Palace.

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