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:: The Illustrated Family Doctor

This is the debut feature for director Kriv Sanders and it tells of a writer Gary Kelp (Samuel Johnson) who works for Info Digest, publishers of specially made books for mail order customers. Gary has been tasked to write a medical guide, “The Illustrated Family Doctor”, something light enough for stressed and over-worked readers who may not have the time for a long read. The candid photographs are likely to increase worry, however.

The opening scenes are somewhat confronting in that Gary discovers that his recently deceased father’s corpse has been “harvested” for organ transplants with his mother’s blessing. Gary’s mood is disturbing when faced with the work he has set himself with this book. He actually starts to inherit symptoms of things that he ahs researched – his eyes are infected and the whole exercise churns his stomach.

Gary’s occasional angry outbursts affect his relationships. His girlfriend Jennifer (Kestie Morassi) isn’t happy. Gary’s sister Carol (Sacha Horler) has an ongoing rage, and his mother (Sarah Pierce) is depressed.

The person who is influential in Gary’s life is Ray (Colin Friels), an enigmatic colleague at the office who, at least, encourages Gary to fulfil this latest project. It is Ray’s daughter, the mysterious and alluring Christine (Jessica Napier) who, in a minor way, also affects Gary’s life.

Despite a talented cast, the story, though quirky with some great ideas, has limited appeal - too few laughs in the focus of death and illnesses and most of the characters aren’t exactly heart warming. Stenders doesn’t quite lift the story to the darker aspects to which he’s seeking. Kestie Morassi and Jessica Napier are very good in contrasting roles. Friels is excellent as the digest editor. Meegan’s role as the boss is very real.

This film could have been much more significant in acting out certain elements of life. It stays on the brink. Stenders displays promise as a director but his and David Snell’s script might have been more dynamic.