A Good Man

A Good Man


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Those sceptical about the notion of 'love conquering all' should take a look at this documentary, which pays tribute to a quite remarkable story of sacrifice, passion and commitment. Chris Rohrlach - the Good Man of the title - is, at first glance, just another archetypal Aussie farmer, rough and ready in a salt-of-the-earth sort of way, with an easy smile and bushy beard. Once you've watched Safina Iberoi's intimate film, however, you'll realise just how remarkable Chris and his family really are.

Fate has dictated that his is a far from normal domestic set up. The day after he and girlfriend Rachel announced to the world that they were expecting their first child and getting married, Rachel suffered a catastrophic stroke that left her quadriplegic. Despite the severity of her injuries, which mean she is dependent on others for even the most basic of functions and can communicate only using her eyes - by rolling them upwards to indicate the word 'yes' or to help spell out a word as Chris runs through the alphabet - Chris was undeterred, declaring Rachel "the only person I've ever loved" and proceeding to tie the knot. Fourteen years later - and now with a second baby - he still says it is a "privilege to be married".

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This in itself would make for a fascinating documentary but when you add to it the fact that Chris's master plan to help keep the family afloat is to go into partnership with another farmer in a brothel enterprise, it becomes quite extraordinary and proves that fact can really be stranger than fiction. Everything about Chris is matter of fact, even his attitude towards the sex trade - "We don't want to be a house of ill repute, we want to have a good reputation for service," he says, with no trace of irony.

Iberoi has clearly developed a very trusting relationship with the family and is granted seemingly limitless access to their lives, including both Chris' and Rachel's parents. She never abuses that trust but uses it to paint a full and frank position of the struggles the family faces. There are tears here - it's clear Rachel feels the weight of her situation keenly, as does her eldest son who, though accepting of his mum's condition still wishes this wasn't how things would remain. But this is not a wallow in misery - rather a celebration of endurance and love, showing that happiness can be found in the unlikeliest of places and that tough situations needn't drive laughter out of the equation. "Everyone's got a right to go to hell in their own way," says Chris. If we all followed Chris' example, I suspect the Devil would be dancing alone.

Reviewed on: 19 Mar 2010
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Tracking the life of an extraordinary family.
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Director: Safina Uberoi

Year: 2009

Runtime: 79 minutes

Country: Australia


Australia 2010

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