DEALING WITH DESTINY. Starring Luke Arnold, Clayton Moss, Roger Sciberras, Steve Maresca, Catherine Jermanus and Barry Quin. Directed by Colm O'Murchu. 80 minutes.
It is the last day of the University term and the planning of the traditional pranks is well underway between good mates Blake, Lloyd, Vinnie and Ricardo. Blake and Lloyd are two brilliant physics students who have always worked closely together as a partnership, but the stakes are much higher today as only one of them can top the year and win the University Medal. Their lecturer, the somewhat sinister Professor Sorvad, plots to influence the outcome.
Vinnie is called upon to drive his beloved Betsy, a 1969 canary yellow Fiat sport coupe, at high speed through the campus on a desperate mission against time. Ricardo falls lustfully in love with the sexy gym girl, but she has a secret life to reveal. Lloyd has a new girlfriend, the cosmically conscious, tree-hugging, dolphin-loving Zara. Zara uses her self-styled mystical powers to read the tarot cards & to predict the future events of the day, & amazingly it all seems to be coming perfectly true until things take a very different turn.
The accepted film industry rule is that a feature film must run for 80 minutes. Even with the credits, Dealing With Destiny just gets there, and herein lies the problem. This low budget Australian flick could have been a very funny short film. But it over reaches and falls flat. There are just a couple of funny moments in the film, but too few of them to sustain interest, and so in between the gags we get overdrawn characters doing silly things for no apparent reason.
Having lived in University Colleges as a student and a staff member, I know the sometimes ridiculous milieu they can inhabit, where otherwise bright young things do incredibly stupid things, but for the sake of hoped-for laughs, Dealing With Destiny draws caricature not characters. And we could not care less about any of them.
If the some of the language, adolescent sexuality and overt sexism does not put you off, the lack of any significant pay-off for the effort should do so.
In a year where the Australian film industry has given us the delightful Red Dog, we know that a small, shorter feature film does not need to compromise on plot, character and enjoyment.
The destiny we are dealt here is to feel very short changed by the end.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the director of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Blue Pie Distributors
Out: September 1, 2011.