The Hard Word


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Aussie way is no messin', mate. Writer/director Scott Roberts goes straight up, full on, hands off the wheel with his debut feature and you can't help admiring the energy.

Modern thrillers have a tendency to double cross the audience with trick endings and incomprehensible storylines. The Hard Word makes sense if you believe that every cop in Sydney is a crook and every crook in the slammer is related to Chopper Read. Sheilas are tarts, with fingers on zippers, and cynicism has become despotic; there's little hope for good old fashioned romance.

Even that's a lie, because one of the charms of this film is that the trio at its centre are as soft as Pommy seam bowlers on a fiery Brisbane track.

Dale (Guy Pearce) is the thinker, which means he doesn't talk much. Shane (Joel Edgerton) is the muscles, who has a crush on his therapist. Mal (Damien Richardson) is a butcher who wouldn't hurt a fly.

It turns out, they are brothers, despite looking nothing like each other, and are released from prison on the same day, in order to pull off a security van heist. Dale's wife Carol (Rachel Griffiths) is having it off with their bent lawyer (Robert Taylor), who seems intent on stitching the lads up and running off with the moolah.

Forget the plot. It gets silly after a while and then violent and finally credibly challenged. More important is the repartee, the emotional health of the brothers and what to do with half a million in notes when being chased through the city by an old bloke in a mac.

Pearce and Griffiths are taking a holiday from L.A, coming home to Oz and relaxing in a hot little script. You can tell how much they are enjoying themselves and it's infectious. The acting is five notches above average, which means that when the story slides into the long grass, it doesn't affect the value of the entertainment.

It's not that you want these villains to escape with their sense of humour intact and pockets full of other's people money, although you do, it's just that you don't want the bad guys to prosper, because their greed is ugly, unlike Carol who majored in seduction before most of these chancers were out of short pants.

You can tell this isn't Hollywood, because Dale's hair is long and greasy. Can you imagine George Clooney not shampooing for a week?

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2003
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Aussie heist flick, involving three brothers in the slammer, a bent lawyer and a blonde tart.
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Director: Scott Roberts

Writer: Scott Roberts

Starring: Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Taylor, Joel Edgerton, Damien Richardson, Rhondda Findleton, Kate Atkinson, Vince Colosimo, Paul Sonilkila, Kym Gyngell, Dorian Nkono

Year: 2002

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/Australia


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