Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Abbie Cornish, Sam Worthington, Lynette Curran, Damian de Montemas, Olivia Pigeot
Director: Cate Shortland
After making a misjudged advance towards her mothers boyfriend 16-year-old heidi flees her home for the australian ski town of jindabyne. With little money or practical experience she takes a job at a gas station & finds l... more »
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Heidi is 16 and on her own and not always making the right c
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 08/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Living Down Under, Heidi (Abbie Cornish) might be only 16, but she has the body of an older woman. Lonely and struggling to deal with new feelings, she makes a pass at her mother's tattooed boyfriend. He of course reciprocates, but they are caught by her mother (Olivia Pigeot)), who totally freaks. Rejected by her mother, a shattered Heidi runs away from home. Because she is willing to trade her body for a place to stay and transportation, things are not looking promising for Heidi. Then she has a bit of lucky, because she crosses the path of Joe (Sam Worthington), the son of a farmer, who is drawn to the nymph but is not interested in taking advantage of her.
So when she gets in his pickup he takes her to this ski resort town, which is not in the off-season, and there she tries to make a life for herself. Joe puts her up for the night in a motel run by Irene (Lynette Curran), who is willing to let Heidi stay in the flat behind the place that her son used to stay in as long as she pays rent and does not cause trouble. Heidi scours the town for a job at gets one working behind the counter at the BP station. She is way too needy for Joe, who has his own problems, but he sees her from time to time until she asks him if he is her boyfriend. He does not respond well to pressure and perhaps he is put off by her trashy background. In fact, that seems to be what most of the people in this town think about her, which is brought home in a scene that is representative of the tenor of this film.
At several key moments in "Somersault," the film does exactly that. You think you know what is about to happen when Heidi is being given a ride and the guy suddenly turns off the road to show her something; but the expected does not happen. You think that Heidi is forming the nucleus of a new family, but that is not what is happening here either. What should have been a friendship with Bianca (Hollie Andrew) at the BP, is quickly denied her. Even when we get to the pivotal moment where a depressed and despondent Heidi decides to become the person that apparently everybody think she is, things do not pan out as we would think either. It is this ability to surprise me time and time again that fully justifies rounding up on this 2004 film.
This is a heartfelt and painful movie, because Heidi is living on the edge, and obviously mistaken sex for love. We have trouble thinking she is still a little girl, but we never believe she has become a woman. In her favor is the fact that she is trying to make an honest go of it out on her own. I was expecting her to start stealing things, but she does not, although she scavenges left over food at the motel. In fact, one of the signature aspects of her character is that she eats whatever she can at every opportunity. Heidi is so emotionally numb that that what stands out are the two moments where she loses it. The first comes when she learns of a cruel lie that adds insult to injury and forces a primal scream of rage out of her. The other is when she finally breaks and confesses to another person as to what has happened to her, and in that honest moment finds the lifeline she so desperately needs.
"Somersault" is the first feature film by writer-director Cate Shortland, who had previously made a trio of short films. There are some artistic flourishes throughout the film and a strategic reduction in the color palate, but primarily Shortland has her cinematographer Robert Humphreys go with a hand held camera to create a sense of intimacy with the characters. The results are quite successful. "Somersault" won 13 Australian Film Institute awards out of 15 nominations (the previous record for wins was 8), with the two it did not win being because it had multiple nominees in the supporting actor and actress categories. Obviously there is a lot of pressure on Shortland for her new film, which I should think they are eagerly anticipating in Australia, but she appears to be biding her time. That reminds me: whatever happened to James Cameron?"
Little girl lost...
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Light, impressionistic and ethereal, the Australian film Somersault steadily grows on the viewer. Very much reminiscent of this maverick and new wave genre of Australian movie making, in Somersault meaning comes from the very modest and a lot happens when very little is being said. It's where a teenage girl sets off on a sexual and moral coming-of-age odyssey that resonates with remarkable truth and purity.
The lovely sixteen-yea-old Heidi (Abbie Cornish) is a bit of a femme fatale. She knows men are attracted to her and she realizes pretty early on that she can probably get whatever she wants from them. After getting caught making out with her Mum's hunky young boyfriend, this lonely and wraithlike girl drifts up to Jindabyne in the Australian Alps of New South Wales.
Constantly yearning for male attention, her striking blond looks make her an easy target for the young, vacationing boys - they don't hesitate to take advantage of her. She's also a bit of a party girl and thinks nothing of getting drunk and stoned at the local hangouts. As she tries to find employment - she eventually gets a job working the counter in a service station - she catches the eye of Joe (a terrific Sam Worthington), the son of wealthy landowners.
Joe is handsome and likeable enough, although he's very uptight and remains non-committal. At first, he appears to be in it for thrill of sleeping with an underage girl, but his initial hesitancy masks a deep-seated self-loathing, and certain confusion over his sexuality. As much as Heidi needs him, Joe's just too insecure to return her feelings.
Of course, this is a world of entrenched snobbery where the sons and daughters of the wealthy landowners look down on working class girls like Heidi. At only sixteen Heidi gradually discovers that her whorish behaviour and limited employment prospects condemn her to the bottom rungs of this picturesque Jindabyne's social ladder. Even the maternal motel owner Irene (a fabulous Lynette Curran) who takes Heidi under her wing, has her patience tried by the unruly and irresponsible girl.
Somersault with its arty, indistinct photography and it's otherworldly atmosphere, is very much a portrait of two troubled souls searching for love and respect, but director Cate Shortland is talented enough to show that there isn't an easy way out for this couple. As Heidi drifts through life, keeping a diary and looking at the world almost through a childlike sensibility, Shortland is totally adept at delicately capturing Heidi's lovelorn world.
Alternating between glacial, pastel landscapes and burnt-ochre interiors, Summersault is a disturbing portrait of a young girl somewhat at a loss and Cornish's astonishingly empathic performance always stays directly connected to Heidi's troubled soul. Her desire actually seems to protect her from the consequences of some very dire situations. Worthington is also terrific as Joe, with his need to connect with Heidi and his somewhat opaque sexual ambivalence constantly keeping us guessing.
Summersault is an accomplished film, another gritty and edgy slice of Australian life - although the film is at times brutal to watch. Heidi's very presence in this small resort town often seems to make adults uncomfortable and boys cruel. There is a definite sense that there is nothing Heidi can do to escape her looks, class and circumstances. Mike Leonard July 06.
Is there a Better Psychological Drama on DVD Today?
Artist & Author | Near Mt. Baker, WA | 01/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At its core, this is a very intense and uniquely perceptive psychological drama. Some would consider it to be a coming-of-age movie because it deals with a teen and sexuality; but I think that is far to shallow analysis. Indeed, this is not a movie about sexual awakening, or even about a girl trying to use sex to get what she wants. Notwithstanding what some 'feminists' seem to believe, there is an innate need, a yearning within every normal girl for male attention. But, it goes much further than that; it is not simply for male attention, but for unselfish, loving male attention that says, 'I love you for the unique, feminine, person you are.' It is a yearning for mature male ratification of a girl's social person, her intellectual person, her spiritual person as well as for her female physical person. This whole movie is about Heidi's longing for that kind of love.
It is too easy to say that when Heidi started to kiss her mother's boyfriend that it was somehow due to her sex drive. The way we see Heidi as the movie progresses, we see that she really has the emotional maturity of about a nine to ten-year old. Over and over, when she is by herself, we see her fascinated by things that would more interest a grade schooler than a sixteen-year-old; spraying the hose at the gas station window out of frustration is certainly more childish than even adolescent. So, when she is with her chronological age-mates she has to act a part that she is emotionally to unable to handle. She knows that well-adjusted adolescents her age are starting to learn to express their sexual love. Emotionally, she is still a preadolescent, so she is unable to recognize the mature sexual signals. Therefore, when her mother's boyfriend shows her the slightest attention, she makes a grave emotional error by responding sexually.
A mature man, instead of responding sexually, might have given her a fatherly hug and told her that she was very special, pointing out some of her traits that he saw to be that of a developing fine young lady. When he didn't respond in the way she really needed, and when her mother freaked out, instead of being a positive event it turned into an emotionally damaging event that left Heidi both bewildered and with a further loss of self-esteem. Not knowing how to handle the situation, and with no adults in her life who could nudge her toward maturation, she could only think to run away.
So, throughout the movie, she responds to negative situations in ways that make her situation worse, lowering her self esteem even more. The lower her self esteem becomes, the needier a person she becomes. To Joe's credit (her perceived boyfriend), as he began to see more into the 'inner Heidi' the more he seemed to realize her emotional immaturity so he became less interested in her sexually as he began to care about her. Also undoubtedly involved, was his own insecurity about dealing with such serious emotional immaturity. Finally, during the pivotal scene with Irene, Heidi's mature landlord, she finds someone who recognizes her emotional immaturity and insecurity. Irene's first action is to help Heidi start to deal with her insecurity - by facing up to what she has done by calling her mother.
My DVD library consists of more than 2,000 DVDs dealing in some way with children and teens, and I cannot think of any of them that surpasses this movie it is perception and presentation of an emotionally hurting teen. Abbie Cornish's depiction of such a girl is masterful beyond her years. Not only is she profoundly believable, the story itself is more than just plausible. You feel as if you are seeing an actual event.
For those who are concerned about such things, there is a bit of coarse language. However, it is infrequent and just enough to give flavor to the ranching lifestyle. There are several instances where Heidi's breast are seen, and a couple of scenes where she is totally naked, but curled up to preserve her modesty. For a few moments she is seen naked outdoors at night from the rear. One of the young men trying to take advantage of her when she was drunk is seen naked momentarily. I am grading this movie down a half a rating (so it should be 4-1/2 stars if I could in this forum) because there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for there to be a gayscene, even if it lasts just a couple of seconds. It would have been far better to use that time showing Joe asking some knowing, mature person how he should behave toward Heidi's problems.
With these caveats in mind, I don't think you can find a more true and believable psychological drama. In fact, it would be interesting to show this movie to child and teen psychology students and to listen to their discussion. Lacking that opportunity, I'd say to just watch the movie, enjoy it; but don't neglect to also think about girls you might know who are emotionally immature, like Heidi..."
Coming of age movie from a female perspective
Margaux Paschke | New York | 01/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie resonated deeply with me as it will with most females but that's not to say that men cannot enjoy it as well. It's one of those films that both sexes will like but will view it differently. It's a haunting film about a 16 year old girl coming to terms with her sexuality and finding her way in life.
We first met Heidi as her mom's boyfriend sends her into the local bar to get her. Her mom is annoyed when Heidi shows up (a younger version of herself) as she apparently enjoys the company of fellow male patrons more then staying at home. Abby is annoyed at her mom for the way she acts with other men. Typical mother/daughter relations when the daughter starts to become a woman. But Heidi's first attempts at feminine wiles are inappropriate and have dire consequences. She's devastated by her own actions as well as her mother's reaction and decides to run away. Abby goes to a resort town where she thinks she can get a job from a guy she met. He had given her his card and told her to call if she was ever in the area but of course, he did not really mean it and I felt for her when she made this call. She is stuck in a town with no place to stay and she does the only thing she knows works (me thinks her mom has not been the best role model), let a man have sex with you in exchange for drinks, a place to stay - fill in the blank really. Heidi is in that very awkward stage between childhood and becoming a woman. The actress (Abby Cornish) plays her with amazing skill, her whole body language tells the story. Heidi soon hooks up with Joe (Sam Worthington) who also wants to "sleep" with her but she mistakes his backhanded kindness for love and calls every number in the town's phone book until she tracks him down. He ignores her. When they run into each other by accident and Joe does not acknowledge her, Heidi's face tells of immense heartbreak that only a teenager in love can experience. Of course, they end up back in bed but this quasi-relationship is doomed from the start. Heidi is devastated by the breakup and becomes even more self-destructive and goes back to trolling bars with disturbing consequences. Joe, of course, walks in at the worst point and things turn nasty. At this point, Heidi has no self worth and runs after Joe stark naked to no avail. Her behavior once again has consequences and she is kicked out of her flat. Heidi becomes spiteful to the one person who showed her true kindness. She is at a turning point in her life, she can continue her spiral downward or take responsibility for her actions. This time her walk around town is not filled with childlike curiosity but a more mature introspection. She returns to thank the woman who helped her before breaking down in tears and telling her the truth of things. Heidi's mother is called and arranges to come and bring her back home. The next time she runs into Joe, Heidi handles it with dignity. She has grown up. When we see her mother take her back home, there is hope for the future.
The scenes are shot beautifully with great usage of the landscape around them. The performances were magnificent in their honesty. This film spoke to the core of my emotions. It did not require a box of Kleenex although it did leave deep sadness in its wake, a kind of mourning for innocence lost as we reach adulthood and the embarassment over the things we have done as we make our way.