Three Blind Mice

Three Blind Mice


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Sam (Ewen Leslie), Harry (Matthew Newton, who also takes on directing and writing duties) and Dean (Toby Schmitz) are three Navy boys bound for Iraq, looking to paint the town red one last time before heading out. Each has a distinctive personality – Harry’s the wideboy, quickly ordering hookers like takeaway from the hotel phone in his quiet but sincere pal Sam’s name, while all Dean seemingly wants to do is spend the night with his fiancée, if he can make it through dinner with his soon-to-be-inlaws first.

Beginning in comedic vein, Newton deliberately references Forties favourite On The Town, but this is the grim flipside to that song and dance spectacular. Right from the outset there are whispers that something is slightly offkey as regards what happened back on the boat. “Do you think he’s fine?” Harry asks Dean, while Sam’s in the bathroom, knowing full well that he isn’t. As the night progresses we follow the trio’s exploits as Sam considers his future actions while the others come to terms with those in their past.

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Newton turns expectations on their head. This is not, like so many films with Iraq as a plot element, about the military’s inhumanity to others, but its careless disregard for the wellbeing of its own. Still, first and foremost this is a story about the conflict between friendship and duty. Newton has an enviable ear for conversation but his script could use a good editor. His camerawork – hooked on choppy cuts, especially at the outset - is also unruly and the film initially suffers from the fact that Sam’s story, packed with romance and filial duty, is far more interesting than that of Harry and Dean. Leslie is also a terrific actor and despite creditable performances from the other leads, every time he is off-screen he is missed.

Three Blind Mice, however, rewards the patient viewer and if you stick with the overly talky and messy set up – particularly a poker scene which should throw in its cards a whole lot earlier – the film settles into a rhythm by the time Dean’s dinner with his future inlaws slides into something much more blackly comedic and acidic and Sam makes an emotionally charged visit to his waspish mother (a beautifully worked cameo by Jacki Weaver) and cuddly grandfather (Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwall).

While later scenes with a British ‘comedy’ pimp (Bob Franklin) feel like an unnecessarily and clumsily worked distraction that inevitably detract from the cleverly handled and surprising central section, this is still a notable calling card for Newton - a name we’re sure to be hearing again.

Reviewed on: 13 Mar 2009
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Three sailors face up to their future and their past on an eventful night out in Sydney.

Director: Matthew Newton

Writer: Matthew Newton

Starring: Ewen Leslie, Toby Schmitz, Matthew Newton, Jacki Weaver, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwall, Gracie Otto

Year: 2008

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: Australia

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