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:: The King Is Dead

Legendary Australian director Rolf de Heer returns to the big screen with a suburban thriller that sounds so mundane that it would never work… yet you will still be leaving the cinema knowing that you have watched a pretty good film. The scenario behind The King Is Dead is something that we have all been through at some time in our life. Max (Dan Wyllie) and Therese (Bojana Novakovic) are the perfect couple – they are quit, law-abiding citizens.

Now they have just bought a home in what they believe is a quiet leafy street. On one side they have the perfect neighbours but on the other side they have a house lived in by King (Gary Waddell) who deals drugs alongside his two mates The Drug Dealer (Anthony Hayes) and Shrek (Luke Ford). If the noise coming from that house isn’t enough the constant break-ins are and soon Max and Therese find themselves pushed to the limit.

At times The King Is Dead is suspenseful and dramatic, de Heer nails that to a tee but sadly when this film really needs grunt he holds back and turns to the comedy angle, something that most audience members will feel seriously holds back the film. It seems a strange choice for de Heer to make because the film is cruising right up until that point. You feel the suspense building but the comedy feels like you have just deflated a balloon. Like most of his films de Heer’s real strength here is his characterization. You instantly feel for Max and Therese, not only because at sometime we’ve all had neighbours from hell, but because they are written as characters that you can’t help but like. So powerful is de Heer’s writing that at times you also find yourself feeling for King.

De Heer also masterfully guides his cast. Bojana Novakovic once again shows why she is one of the most gifted Australian actresses in the game at the moment while Dan Wyllie takes a huge step up in his career. As usual Anthony Hayes and Luke Ford play the ‘rough guys’ remarkably well while Gary Waddell plays the disturbed King so well you can’t help but wonder if he won’t score himself so award nominations.

The comedic part of The King Is Dead lets it down but aside from that the film is a worthy suburban thriller made even better by the touch of the genius that is Rolf de Heer.