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:: The Cup

The Cup might be one of the most eagerly anticipated Australian films of 2011 but like the race it follows it gets off to an extremely slow start and only really picks up after the halfway mark. At times The Cup does seem clunky and disjointed but for the most part it is a good drama that certainly holds your interest.

Damien (Stephen Curry) and Jason Oliver (Daniel MacPherson) are both champion jockeys that have followed in the shadow of their father who was killed in the same profession. When Damien chooses to ride Media Puzzle, one of the Irish trainer, Dermot Weld’s (Brendan Gleeson) horses in the Melbourne Cup rather than an Australian one the horse racing community is in shock. While trainer, Lee Freedman (Shaun Micallef) and others try to discourage him from the ride he is determined. However, the drama raises when Jason is killed in a racing accident just a week before the Melbourne Cup, Damien is left with a big decision to make. While his mother, Pat (Colleen Hewitt), his girlfriend, Trish (Jodi Gordon) and manager, Neil Pinner (Martin Sacks) all tell Damien that the decision is his others are adamant he shouldn’t ride. Meanwhile, a nation awaits his decision.

The biggest issue with The Cup seems to be fact that director, Simon Wincer also wrote the script. While Wincer makes the film look sensational its script does let it down every now and then. Early on the film drags and the drama doesn’t really strike until Jason’s death. Wincer tends to overwrite early on, unfortunately that makes it feel that he thinks his audience is stupid and needs everything set out for them. Dangerously, Wincer also over uses news reports to allow scenes to link. However, the second half of the film is different again. Wincer captures the Melbourne Cup sensationally well and you can only marvel at the camera work during actual horse races. This leads to the conclusion that Wincer would have been a lot better off if he allowed someone else to write the script.

Acting-wise The Cup is also up and down. While Stephen Curry, Daniel MacPherson and Martin Sacks shine on the big screen they are badly let down by some weak performances by people that have been horribly miscast; people such as Shaun Micallef. Micallef’s performance is dead-pan, something you certainly don’t expect from one of the most animated men on Australian television. Although, as I mentioned Stephen Curry is sensational while Dan MacPherson is amazing as Jason… it’s just unfortunate that he isn’t in the film longer. The big congrats though must be paid to Martin Sacks who clearly shows the Australian industry how well he can do with a good part.

The Cup might be up and down but it is well worth a look just to see the way that Wincer captures the actual horse race. While, The Cup could have been a hell of a lot more dramatic it is worth a look to see this amazing story up on the big screen.