It has taken far too long for New Zealand director Mark Prebble to get "Futile Attraction," a prime example of the global microcinema scene, on home video.
Fans of the distinct cinematic style found in Australia and New Zealand's filmmakers, especially last year's indie darling "Eagle vs. Shark," will undoubtedly enjoy "Futile Attraction." Filmed on an estimated $30,000, "Futile Attraction" attracted quite a bit of press when Prebble took to internet fund-raising in order to finish the film.
In this case, it was worth the hype. Prebble himself describes "Futile Attraction" as an anti-romantic comedy done in mockumentary style about a film crew making a documentary about the life of a relationship who bring together an obviously incompatible young man and woman with the help of a local dating agency.
The young man, Randal (first-timer Peter Rutherford), works as a telemarketer and obsesses on three things...telephones, his mother and his life master plan that essentially involves job, education, pleasing mom, wife and kids. By virtually anyone's standards, Randal is a sweet-hearted, good-natured dork.
The young woman, Germaine (Danielle Mason, "The Strip"), is your basic hippie-chick/environmentalist whose primary motivation for agreeing to the whole thing is the opportunity to share her views on environmental issues.
Following the two anti-lovebirds around is a washed-up announcer named Dudley (Alistair Browning, "Fracture"), the producer's daughter/boom operator Violet (Michelle Ang, "Neighbours") and a host of others. Speaking of "Eagle vs. Shark," that film's writer/director, Taika Waititi, makes a brief appearance here as a waiter under the name Taika Cohen.
With the exception of Peter Jackson, who never met a character he couldn't shred into completely irrelevant pieces, Aussie and New Zealand filmmakers have an uncanny gift for finding the richest humanity in the most unique of characters.
The same is true for Prebble and "Futile Attraction." Despite the film's obviously low-budget and mockumentary style, "Futile Attraction" works largely on the strength of its two leads.
Mason is simply delightful as the beautiful hippie-chick with a heart. Mason has a natural screen presence, and she wisely avoids turning Germaine into a caricature despite the over-the-top nature of the comic goings on.
Similarly, Rutherford's Randal has a droll yet rather endearing presence that would be right at home in "Revenge of the Nerds."
The script, by Prebble and Benedict Reid, bends more towards "This is Spinal tap" than the Christopher Guest films. Clearly focusing most of its comic energy on the two leads, the supporting cast nonetheless shines despite leaning a bit more towards obvious caricatures. In particular, Alistair Browning has a perfect grasp of the comic potential inside his washed up but upwardly mobile announcer.
Mathew Knight's cinematography is simple but effective, and Vedat Kiyici's music mix is a great complement to the film's mix of humor and sweetness.
"Futile Attraction," being released on home video by Singa Home Entertainment, is a marvelous example of the quality films coming out of the world of microcinema. Funny with just the perfect touch of heart, "Futile Attraction" is a low-key comedy gem.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic