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:: The Nothing Men

Directed by debutant feature filmmaker Mark Fitzpatrick, who worked his own script, The Nothing Men shows how brutal, stubborn and disrespectful people behave under pressure. Several men sit in a room in a factory that is shutting down local operations. Given the option of moving State to continue their trade, or be made redundant, the men wait in a room during working hours for six months as the clearances on their payouts come closer. They opt for the status of an empty warehouse and each other’s company. They drink, gamble (on cards) and talk inane rubbish. But when a new man is transferred to their set up amongst talks of industrial spying and the cancellation of payouts, paranoia grows among them.

Fitzpatrick chooses only a couple of characters to develop in any real depth, which he does so by establishing their outside lives, meaning these two personalities are described in much more detail than the others. Colin Friels plays the group’s ex-foreman Jack, with a real tough guy image; and who has a constant axe to grind. The blokes get paranoid when the new member David (David Field) shows up, sent to dob in their wicked ways and subsequently rid them of their redundancy entitlements. David frequently has to leave “work” for “personal” reasons, which heightens the group’s suspicions, and tensions eventually boil over into violence.

The Nothing Men is a film that builds and escalates conflict almost entirely through conversation. The dialogue is well written but lacks some flair. Friels is the highlight performance. He’s entirely convincing and slightly unsettling as the rough bloke. The film’s cinematography is excellent - by Peter Holland, who shot the terrific drug drama Cedar Boys - with slick and sharp focusing on the people and good use of camera angles.

The Nothing Men, despite the seemingly unfair ending, is a quality and interesting local production.