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:: Toomelah

You know a country’s film industry is in a healthy state when even low budget films like Toomelah can teach people a thing or two about story-telling. While the shaky camera-work of some scenes may scare off some people this is certainly a film worth seeing as the story wraps you up to the point that you just have to know what happens in the end.

Daniel (Daniel Connors) lives on a remote Aboriginal mission named Toomelah. When his behaviour at school leads him to leaving he is faced with two options. He can correct his behavior and return to school or start to work with local gangster, Linden (Christopher Edwards) who is only too happy to welcome him into his crew. To the surprise of his friend (he would never admit girlfriend), Tanitia (Danieka Connors) he chooses the latter, however with ex-crim, Bruce (Dean Daley-Jones) now on the block this could turn into an ugly war that Daniel certainly shouldn’t be involved in.

Writer/director, Ivan Sen has created a film that every Australian should see. Just like Samson & Delilah, Toomelah shows that life on Aboriginal mission’s isn’t as rosy as the Government would like us to think it is. Like I said some people will hate the shaky camera style of the film, but at the end of the day that actually makes Toomelah even more powerful because it brings a realism to the film that has the potentially to genuinely shock you.

Story wise Toomelah works remarkably well. Despite the fact you could describe him as a ‘naughty boy’ you can’t help but feel for Daniel. Sen has written the character in such as way that you certainly don’t want to see anything happen to him. Sen also has the ability to cover a range of topics (including the stolen generation) in the film without you ever feel that you are being preached at… mind you, you are likely to leave this film angry at the Government for the fact that they seem to do nothing to help people living on this missions… that in itself is a sign that Sen has got this film to work on a remarkable level.

The other huge plus with Toomelah is the acting. Sure, there are a lot of newcomers but most of them do a wonderful job. Both Daniel Connors and Christopher Edwards do a sensational job. Connors has to be one of Australia’s most talented younger actors while Edwards is a late bloomer who really should look at a career in TV or film. The other standout is Dean Daley-Jones who, on the back of his performance in Mad Basterds, is really making people sit up and take notice. Sen needs to be congratulated for taking the risk on an untried cast and having it work so well.

Toomelah is perhaps one of the most important films to be made in Australia this year. While it’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea it is a good film that deserves to be seen. Realistic and haunting… this is what low-budget filmmaking is all about.