Thursday August 11, 2016·
“Nice jeans faggot!” hollered a voice as my colleague and I strolled home after work at 3am.
“Fuck you cunts!” I offered back.
Chests quickly inflated and our assailants came charging over the road doing that weird box step staunch guys seem to prefer when they are getting fighty or dancing in da clurb. As they approached it became apparent these two strangers were no older than sixteen. Preferring to emotionally rather than physically wound my little shit, I pinned him to the ground with my knee, removed his sneaker and proceeded to liberally spank him while repeatedly asking how it felt to be beaten with one’s own shoe. I ended this joyfully righteous moment by proclaiming that:
“THIS IS WHAT I CALL STREET JUSTICE!”
Or so I thought. The doors of the surrounding cars suddenly opened and I proceeded to get the living shit kicked out of me by a pack of bloodthirsty teenagers. Alongside being repeatedly punched to the ground one of them even hit me with a champagne bottle. Despite a short moment of glory this was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
As with the story above, Down Under mines the humour found in the absurdity of violence and aggression, delivering each gag with the subtlety of a ‘king hit’. Staging a black comedy in the wake of the Cronulla Riots is an incredibly daring decision and the film squarely places itself in the tradition of subversive and chaotic Australian film making from Wake in Fright to Mad Max. Using satire to address violence and bigotry is an incredibly bold move that could have dramatically backfired. Director Abe Forsyth takes the risk of making a fucking idiot out of himself on the national stage and instead comes up looking like a fucking genius.
The script also mines the stress inducing technique perfected by Larry David, with everyone on screen constantly yelling at each other. Although profanity is abundant, cheap and obvious jokes are elevated by the sheer exuberance of delivery from the amazing cast. Each of the lead characters is a hyper-real exaggeration of our own innocence, bigotry, zealotry, apathy or ego. While almost every character is ruthlessly pilloried they are also treated with compassion in moments of vulnerability. A film being able to make one sympathise with a racist is quite the feat.
Hopefully the warped funhouse mirror that is Down Under will make people reflect on the times they’ve been a bigoted dickhead, an egotistical arse-hat or testosterone fuelled, violent piece of shit and make them think twice about doing it again. The film also challenges any pious, socially liberal individuals to look past the caricatures we’ve made out of the previously mentioned dickheads, arse-hats and shit pieces to see the multitude of complex and varied perspectives that make up real humans. If we can all stop punching and pontificating we might just be able to make this life thing work.