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:: Three Dollars

Three Dollars is adapted from Elliot Perlman’s acclaimed novel and he worked through the idea with director Robert Connolly to bring it to the big screen. In turn, Connolly pulled out his big guns, producer John Maynard and actor David Wenham (all having worked on Connolly’s ‘The Bank’), to fulfil the project. Then, to attract London-based Australian Frances O’Connor and US-based Australian Sarah Wynter were extra coups.

Eddie (David Wenham) reflects a character commonplace to that seen within many work organisations in recent history. He has a wife, child, usual many expenses, a mortgage, yet seems to have a testing, but interesting and well-paid job. As a chemical engineer, he is tasked for granting approval to developments after conducting checks on the property and surrounds. He doesn’t approve a particular project and is consequently punished in a staff-cutting exercise and out of a job. His wife Tanya (Frances O’Connor) is a university tutor and also out of work. This adds up to a nightmare for families holding aspirations of a comfortable existence. The economic crisis leads to tensions and the strain impacts to such an extent that Eddie must face the harsh reality of delving into unforeseen territory to cover his and loved ones’ existence.

It is easy to see why Robert Connolly sticks to a tried and true actor like David Wenham. He hardly puts a foot wrong and displays the patience and manner required for Eddie’s character. He forms an excellent on-screen relationship with Frances O’Connor, although she looked a little forced at times. But it is good to see her back in her first Australian film in a long time. Sarah Wynter plays Amanda, a woman who appears very nine and a half years in Eddie’s life and it’s her first Australian film. It’s worth mentioning young Joanna Hunt-Prokhovnik, who plays six-year-old Abby (Eddie and Tanya’s daughter). She shows great aplomb in her role.

Three Dollars showcases the city of Melbourne quite moodily and the visuals are quite absorbing. There is much substance in how the dark side exists and it’s done with integrity and ingenuity. There is humanity and subtlety in the film with the family values being tested and focusing on a generally decent man in Eddie, who could have turned in various directions.

In controlling the tone of the film, Connolly and his music supervisors call in several good pieces of music that reflect the film’s atmosphere, including two Joy Division songs. Note that the classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was only allowed to be used in the closing credits. Many people will relate to ‘Three Dollars’ and it is a worthy effort. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another four years until Robert Connolly’s next film.