CUT SNAKE . Australia, 2015. Starring Sullivan Stapleton, Alex Russell, Jessica de Gouw, Kerry Walker. Directed by Tony Ayres. 96 minutes. Rated MA (No consumer advice given)
Cut Snake is a psychological crime thriller, opening in New South Wales but most of the action taking place in Victoria. It was directed by Tony Ayres, who directed a number of interesting films including the semi-autobiographical Home Song Stories and the film on homosexuality, Walking on Water. In later times, he has worked on television, especially in production and direction of The Slap.
The initial focus of the film is an ex-convict, Jimmy (Sullivan Stapleton), nickname Pommy, walking along the streets, hitching a ride, trying to track down a friend from prison days, visiting friend’s mother, getting the address, finding his friend, Merv, working in a factory. At first, it just seems to be making re-acquaintance – but there is a certain look and expression on Jimmy’s face.
In the meantime, Merv (Alex Russell), has settled down after his prison sentence, working in a factory, engaged to an attractive young woman, Paula (Jessica De Gouw). At which stage, audiences become wary of Jimmy and his presence in the house, seemingly friendly, doing the washing up, yet with something of a sense of menace.
Which seems to be a catalyst for some kind of action is the fact that Paula and her friend, Yvonne, take Merv and Jimmy to a club, with performances by drag queens, which seems to upset Jimmy. In fact, he still has robberies on his mind and really wants Merv to take part in the jobs.
While there is some activity, especially some bashings, and Merv, losing his cool as a reformed X-prisoner, indulges in the brutality, the film becomes more of a psychological drama, the conflict escalating between Jimmy and Merv, Paula learning more about her fiance’s past which, of course, upsets her.
As might be expected, there is a buildup to a showdown, the crisis between Merv and Paula and her shock and his taste and whether it will be resolved, and how will Jimmy fare in his persuading Merv to go on a job with the but also to continue a relationship that began in prison.
This kind of psychological interaction, with crime background, always has some interest but, on the whole, this is something of an average entertainment.
Hopscotch Released September 24th
Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.