The Next Generation of Australian Filmmakers

The Australian news today has an article on the brothers Edgerton. Nash and Joel Edgerton in their first feature film, The Square open tomorrow in Australia. A nation that is so expressive and extroverted in so many other ways is strangely timid when it comes to projecting images on the cinema screen. But, before you know it, you’ve witnessed a vibrant car chase, an explosion, a house fire, a fist fight in a downpour, a surprise drowning, unexpected gun shots and other set pieces not normally seen in humble Australian dramas. Joel Edgerton, who co-wrote the screenplay with Matthew Dabner and also appears in a minor role, knew his director brother could bring the script to life on screen.

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”You often don’t have as much assurance that they’ll know how to handle the material visually as exciting as it will be done with Nash. You might have a lot of faith in a director’s intelligence or theoretical take on a project, but there’s a big question mark on how it’s going to look. As Joel sees it, those directors can talk the talk, “but audiences aren’t going to hear how insightful you are about a subject unless you can turn it into something on screen”.

Joel says Woody Allen, for example, is an incredibly articulate director but that he’d almost prefer a director who was more adept with the visual language of the screen than the spoken word. They are brothers and they have made a film, so they are being compared with Joel and Ethan Coen, the makers most recently of NoCountry For Old Men. It’s a lazy and nonsensical comparison, although it does suggest the high level of expectation being heaped on the Edgertons, who are, rightly or wrongly, seen as the leaders of the next generation of Australian filmmakers.

The story of his film — about a building site manager, Ray (Roberts), whose life unravels after his affair with a young woman, Carla (van der Boom), leads him to rob a bag of cash from her husband, Smithy (Hayes) — is full of moral twists and turns. The chance of that happening didn’t cross Nash’s mind; Joel only ruminated that he might move out of their shared apartment in Sydney’s Darlinghurst during the shoot.dirt_wideweb__470x321,0

In fact, they valued each other’s presence on set, with the director welcoming a brother who could oversee elements of the film he couldn’t handle. “It was great to be on set as a writer because writers are usually the most unwelcome members of the crew on set,” Joel says. “And it was great for me to be on set every day, not having to worry about putting on make-up or a costume.”

He’s filming the six-part ABC drama Dirt Game in Melbourne and is scheduled to appear on stage in Belvoir St Theatre’s AnOak Tree before the Sydney Theatre Company production of A Streetcar Named Desire next year, in which he plays Stanley Kowalski to Cate Blanchett’s Blanche DuBois under director Liv Ullman.

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