Though Australian film ‘Somersault,’ set to open shortly in the United States, may seem like a run-of-the-mill overly sexual foreign film, the film’s homeland would beg to differ.
In 2004 this movie was the ‘Titanic,’ the ‘Lord of the Rings’ of the Australian Film Institute Awards. However, it is questionable whether the 2006 American audience will feel the same way.
‘Somersault,’ starring rising Aussie star Abbie Cornish in what is being called her breakout role, won 13 awards, literally every major category at the Australian Film Institute Awards. They even won Best Sound and Best Costume Design, which seem like those awards that film institutes don’t usually give to small dramas about a girl’s sexual awakening.
Written and directed by Aussie Cate Shortland, ‘Somersault’ is about 16-year-old Heidi (Cornish) who runs away from home after being caught making out with her mother’s boyfriend. With barely any money to her name, she flees to a small Australian ski town to try to make it on her own.
Cornish, who slightly resembles a young Charlize Theron, seems to have gained the most from the film’s popularity, landing a role in 2006’s ‘Candy,’ starring one of the most famous Australian actors, Heath Ledger.
The Lolita-esque Heidi encounters various men with whom she seeks to fill her void of love. She seems innocent and naive, yet uses her burgeoning sexuality in order to manipulate others as her method of survival.
Heidi falls for a local, Joe (Sam Worthington) with whom she explores her sexuality. But even Joe discovers through their encounters that he has issues with his own sexual identity.
There doesn’t seem to be very much growing throughout the film as one would expect in a comingof- age film. Instead, she goes from messing around with her mom’s lover to messing around with random boys in depressing, erotic rendezvous. In the end she still doesn’t know the difference between sex and love.
The film could have delved a little deeper into some of the story lines. I mean, what about Joe’s homosexuality? And what happened between Heidi and her coworker’s creepy dad?
The film is a minimalist when it comes to the variability of the characters. Instead, it is more visually striking, and was filmed with color filters to make some scenes rich and saturated in color and others more cold and pale. The hand-held camera with which it was filled is less objective and the result is a more raw essence of the characters and the ability to react to what the characters are doing.
The beautiful cinematography makes up for what is lacking in the complexity of the plot, making it a film worth seeing. Somersault is set to be released in theaters April 21 by Magnolia pictures.