The Marriage Of Figaro

The Marriage Of Figaro


Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

The overture from Mozart's opera The Marriage Of Figaro plays over the opening of first-time writer/director Chris Moon's film, as we see the incongruous image of a big, bearded Hell's Angel type riding his Harley along a eucalypt-fringed road in South Australia. This is Reginald Figaro (Tony Hill), and like his operatic namesake, he is soon to be married, although not without first having to navigate his way through a series of comic complications, emerging chiefly from his own propensity toward mild deception.

Much of the film's beginning is devoted to trying to trip viewers up on their own supposed prejudices. After we have seen 'Fig' drinking with his biker mates and then getting pulled over for speeding by a cop (Davy O'Brien) who knows the rev-head all too well, we are evidently meant to be surprised to see that, despite all the leathers and liquor, Fig is essentially a good-natured family man, living with his partner of eight years Sheree (Jacqueline Cook) in their suburban Adelaide home and doting on their two young children.

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When we next see him striding purposefully up to a house from his motorbike, we are again supposed to be surprised to learn that, far from intending to batter the elderly woman inside senseless with the metal tool that he is clutching in his hand, he is there just to tune her piano. It is, of course, something of a cliché that the roughest diamonds often have the softest centres, and from the start Fig's status as an easy-going if somewhat dopey and feckless 'good bloke' is obvious for all to see, and easy to accept.

Given his background and education, however, Fig's proficiency at both tuning and playing concert pianos seems an altogether less plausible crux in the plot. Repeated scenes in which Fig first repels 'classy' (ie snobbish) characters with his low-rent appearance and folksy manner, and then wins them over with his considerable musical talents, never really convince, and end up replacing one stereotype with another. Does Fig really need to be a prodigy to charm others (us included)? Presumably his way with keyboards has been included as a nod to the operatic source of the film's inspiration – so it is too bad that the film's own score, composed by Tim Sexton, is a banal collection of cocktail jazz tracks and stings, unworthy of Amadeus and at times out of tune with the scenes that they embellish.

Fig is pressured by Sheree and her chain-smoking, ball-breaking mother (Nikki Fort) both to tie the knot and to get the snip, and acquiesces to these demands with relative equanimity and much supposed hilarity – but the lengthy, go-nowhere scenes of his visits to the clinic, his conversations with best mate/'devil's advocate' Heath (Michael Allen), and his encounters with more sophisticated couple Stefan (Alirio Zavarce) and Rosine (Michaela Cantwell), could all have done with a few surgical cuts themselves.

This lack of economy works against the film's humour both by spreading it too thin, and occasionally even unnecessarily duplicating it – the description of a bride's get-up as 'the full meringue', for example, is far less funny the second time around, and by about the 50-minute mark, the film has lost much of its spark.

The characters never develop, some of the performances are questionably 'broad', and the quality of the digicam images evokes a cheap telesoap. Perhaps none of this is out of place in a film so overtly concerned with its protagonist's resistance to all things snooty and pretentious – but that hardly makes it engaging to watch. There is plenty in The Marriage of Figaro that is sweetly endearing – but charm alone is not enough to carry a film of this length and, when laid on so thick, palls by the end.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2010
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A hairy biker and his long-time love face comic complications as they try to get hitched
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Director: Chris Moon

Writer: Chris Moon

Starring: Tony Hill, Jacqueline Cook, Nikki Fort, Michael Allen, Alirio Zavarce, Michaela Cantwell, Nicole Dickmann, Davy O'Brien, Roger Newcombe, Rosie Denny

Year: 2009

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: Australia


Australia 2010

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