Cedar Boys

Cedar Boys


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There is an innocence about Cedar Boys that would make comparisons with Mean Streets inappropriate. And yet there are moments…

Set in Sydney amongst first generation Lebanese immigrants, the racist undertones are sharper than in Scorsese’s Little Italy. Colour, race and religion are potent social barriers, with which they live, reluctantly. What counts in the cool club hierarchy, according to Sam (Waddah Sari), is “money, names and drugs”.

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Sam is a stereotypical wiseguy wannabe, a small-time dealer who talks tough and walks like they do in the movies. He owns a gun, which is unusual, and uses black American patois to flavour his attitude. If he had the cash and the kudos, he would be Scarface, but he hasn’t. Not yet.

The more interesting characters are his mates, Tarek (Les Chantery), who works in a garage, and Ali (Yasser Assadi), who cleans offices. Tarek’s brother Jamal (Bren Foster) is banged up in jail and needs money to finance an appeal. Both are good Muslim boys and if Jamal turned to crime as a fast track to self improvement, he is not like Sam; he has principles.

Ali is cautious, but not to the detriment of opportunity. Tarek is intelligent, but unambitious. He hates his boss and yet sticks at his job because it is expected. What motivates change is when Ali discovers a stash of drugs in an empty apartment and Tarek falls for a sexy blonde (Rachael Taylor) who proves expensive.

The film is sensitive to its milieu and yet too predictable once the established drugs gang discovers that $300,000 worth of pills has been stolen from under their noses. At least, writer/director Serhatt Caradee rejects Sopranos-style retribution. The scale is smaller and more personal, which adds to it credibility.

Cinematically lacking the intense passions of early De Niro, or Keitel, Cedar Boys avoids the clichés of recent Hollywood-cloned Pommy gangster flicks and, in Chantery’s charming performance, celebrates subtlety over brutality.

Reviewed on: 25 Mar 2010
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Crime is an irresistible temptation for first generation Lebanese Australians who want to rise above social racist barriers.
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Director: Serhat Caradee

Writer: Serhat Caradee

Starring: Les Chantery, Yasser Assadi, Waddah Sari, Rachael Taylor, Bren Foster, Daniel Amalm, Martin Henderson

Year: 2009

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: Australia


Australia 2010

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If you like this, try:

Mean Streets