Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Restraint is not your typical Australian film. It’s ambitious, intriguing storytelling and follows two young lovers, Ron and Dale, who are on the run for murder. After Ron blows away a gas service attendant with his shotgun for receiving alternative means of payment from Dale for supplies, they are a hot commodity and to avoid being captured seek refuge in a secluded country mansion that they come across when fleeing the crime scene.

The mansion appears to be deserted as Ron and Dale scout around for potential cash to aid their getaway, only to discover that the owner Andrew is inside and has been for a while. Andrew is agoraphobic.

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When Andrew is taken hostage, a game of survival begins. Desperate for money, Ron cuts Andrew a deal where if he provides them with cash his life will be spared – however, what Ron is unaware of is that Andrew has a few dark secrets of his own.

In order for Andrew to obtain the money for Ron he must ask Dale to pose as his missing fiancée Gabrielle to retrieve the cash from the local bank – a quick dye job and attitude adjustment and it's not long before Dale is Gabrielle.

As Restraint progresses we get to know all the characters intimately. We understand how they have come to wind up where they are, and why, as well as their plans for the future. However, new revelations occur and each individual tries to play off the others with the momentum twisting back and forth.

Restraint is essentially a three-handed piece where the key to the film's success is how good its cast are and how they deliver there performances. Dave Warner provided a great script but if the movie wasn’t cast correctly then it would be for nothing.

As Ron, Travis Fimmel is magnetic onscreen. You would never for a minute believe this was his first feature film role. His portrayal of Ron is assured and very real - yes, the guy is nuts, but there are some tender moments too where he shows he would do anything for Dale. He’s also quite ambitious yet tends to go about things the wrong way with the choices he makes.

Teresa Palmer is wonderful as Dale. She’s beautiful to look at and clearly enjoys playing with the depth her character has. She totally convinced me that she had sincere compassion for Andrew when he is enduring Ron’s vicious attacks. The real key to this film though is Stephen Moyer, who throughout the movie has the job of wanting the audience to care for him as he endures the terrible torment of being forced outside, taped to a chair and watching his only friend, a parakeet, being blown to mere feathers by Ron. His performance is desperate yet charming, especially when he tries to convince Dale that she is wasting her time with Ron and should look for a better life elsewhere.

Restraint could be defined as a psychological thriller but it wouldn’t be fair or do the movie justice to label it with the term thriller- it's much more than that. As an audience member, you're hooked by the twists and turns, especially when we learn of Andrew’s complexities as the movie progresses.

David Denneen makes a confident debut as a feature director. The film is a beautifully photographed, lavish production created with high aspirations and it delivers on all accounts through look, locations, casting and structure. It hurtles along to a crash bang ending, which some may not see coming. It's by no means uplifting but will certainly provide you with a few talking points as the credits roll.

For a film with little of no fanfare this deserves to be seen and hopefully will be a good kick-start for quite a few long term careers. Highly recommended.

Reviewed on: 30 Dec 2007
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A young couple on the run take a stranger hostage, but have they picked the wrong stranger?

Director: David Denneen

Writer: Dave Warner

Starring: Travis Fimmel, Stephen Moyer, Teresa Palmer

Year: 2008

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia


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