Film Review: The Flip Side
Director: Marion Pilowsky
Cast: Eddie Izzard, Emily Taheny, Vanessa Guide, Luke McKenzie, Hugh Sheridan, Tina Bursill
Running Time: 90
Australian Distributor: 20th Century Fox
The Flip Side plays on the idea of clashing cultural backgrounds. That stemmed from writer and director Marion Pilowsky’s feeling of dislocation when she returned to Adelaide after decades living abroad. She wrote the script with her life partner Lee Sellars.
Ronnie (Emily Taheny) is a struggling Adelaide restaurateur. She looks after her elderly mother and lives with good-hearted boyfriend Jeff (Luke McKenzie). Five years earlier, while catering on a film set, she had an intense affair with British movie star, Henry (Eddie Izzard). Despite wild declarations of love, as the movie wrapped so did the relationship. Ronnie was crushed.
Now, when Henry’s French girlfriend Sophie (Vanessa Guide) calls to say they will be in Adelaide on a promotional tour. Jeff excitedly agrees to meet up – and unwittingly creates the perfect opportunity for Henry to seduce Ronnie all over again. The star-struck Jeff has no idea Ronnie and Henry were once an item. Suddenly, for a short while, the foursome are living in each other’s pockets.
Izzard remains the greatest mystery of the film, specifically why he appears within it. This is unfortunate as his character is the lynch pin to all the film’s drama. Woefully miscast he fails to pull off the role of the English mega celebrity gallivanting through Adelaide. Seeing him and uber-French Sophie parade around with noses held high is painful. Any scene with the pair interacting with the great unwashed Australian public will have you wanting to disappear deep into your seat to escape.
Generally, there is nothing wrong with the premise of the film, which breathes with comic potential. What kills this film are its flat performances, the slowness, and an almost complete lack of comic energy.
The direction by feature first-timer Marion Pilowsky, who co-wrote the screenplay with Lee Sellars, often seems lost. Scenes will play through without any score, then a burst of pop music will suddenly burst out, usually at an inappropriate dramatic juncture. Pilowsky tries hard to create a thoughtful comedy about grown-up dilemmas that will resonate with women – but the script isn’t strong enough to carry the weight.
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