I was a big fan of Ben Elton‘s debut novel Stark. As a 16 year old back in 1989, I found the environmental comedy that satirised both rich and greenies a ripping read.
The last book of his I read was 2001’s Dead Famous, a dark tale of the dangers of Big Brother style reality TV.
This gifted wordsmith who gave us TV classics like The Young Ones and Blackadder has been busy in the ensuing years, primarily writing fiction for books and the small screen, and in the last year has directed his second feature length film, Three Summers.
An ensemble comedy that embraces the diversity of modern Australia, Elton has created a heap of characters with their own agendas who collide in a colourful fashion as they interact wth each other over the course of three summers at a folk music festival.
With a huge cast of familiar Aussie faces including Deborah Mailman as Pam, the leader of the local AA chapter, Magda Szubanski as Queenie, the DJ of the festival radio station, Michael Caton as Henry, a Morris Dancer longing for the olden days, John Waters as Eamon, an alcoholic folk musician, and father to the lead female character Keevey, played by Rebecca Breeds, who steals every scene she is in.
Keevey, the feisty lead singer of an Irish folk band meets a folk music-hating Theremin player Roland (Robert Sheehan) and sparks literally fly.
Ben Elton is so skilled at writing characters and scenarios that are both very funny, but also very relatable and with poignancy that is revealed as the story plays out.
All the players in Three Summers have a story below the surface. Whether it is a death in the family, addiction issues, fear of failure, or racist beliefs, everybody has something else going on to generate entertaining friction.
As a “new Australian”, (Elton emigrated to Western Australia with his Aussie partner in 2010), he is in a good position to make acute observations about our cultural quirks and he makes a stack of great points as well as delivering plenty of laughs.
It’s hard not to like this distinctly Aussie film that serves up romance, music and comedy in an easily digestible package.
3 & 1/2 Stars – “Colourful, Chaotic Comedy with Plenty of Laughs.”