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Fracture Review
varsity.co.nz, 9 June 2004



written by Deborah Mudie

Families can pull together, but they can also fall apart--anyone who's seen Once Were Warriors will recognise the themes played out in Fracture, treading familiar ground in a devastatingly different way. Based on Crime Story by Maurice Gee, Fracture is a multi-layered tale of destruction--physical, mental, and emotional--played out in the suburbs of Wellington as two families disintegrate, grief and rebirth combine, and the trains keep running.

The rift that sets the story in motion is caused when Ulla Peet (Jennifer Ward Lealand) returns home to find Brent Rosser (Jared Turner) burgling her house. Panicked, he pushes her down the staircase, breaking her neck. Ulla's resulting physical paralysis, and Brent's mental break with reality, both have far-reaching impacts on their rapidly collapsing families.

Brent's sister Leeanne (Kate Elliot) is trying to cope with her Christian fundamentalist mother's rejection (Miranda Harcourt, contrasted with Tim Lee's fatherly acceptance) whilst looking after her one-year old. Ulla's mother-in-law Gwen (Liddy Holloway) is dealing with her son Gordon's (Alistair Browning) impending fraud indictment along with Ulla's hospitalisation. Her ex-husband Howard (John Noble) is also feeling the pressure, added to by a closing construction deal. And throughout, Brent's panic at being caught spirals him into a swamp of self-desolation--his helpless running around a stark contrast to Ulla's lack of escape.

Fracture shows tantalising glimpses of familiar Kiwiana amongst the universal messages of despair and hope. The summer heat is a palpable passion, sheening foreheads and burning the retinas, while murals and billboards, posters and lawnmowers all add to the feeling of 'New Zealand summer'. Not the summers of beach-bound gloriousness; but rather the summers of oppressive heat and shortened tempers. The summers of suicide and anger, fractured emotions and overwhelming pressure.

Kate Elliot carries the film, with a strong performance as the fiercely protective Leeanne. Desperately clinging to the shreds of her family, she lavishes her heart on her son while still trying to look out for Brent. Jared Turner convincingly showcases Brent's mental collapse, turning a misguided young man into a desperate, frantic criminal. Jennifer Ward Lealand's facial acting was painfully good, and a testament to her skill--being able to convey such emotions with an eye-flicker, a tone of whisper.

There is no shortage of well-known names in this film. Miranda Harcourt shows how Gemma would have turned out if the Gloss character had ever been born again, distaste slinking out of her while mouthing platitudes. Michael Hurst is the anti-Iolaus as the meek and tired Athol, ex-husband of Ulla and father of Olivia (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki). Cliff Curtis becomes the opposite of Uncle Bully as the hard-headed Inspector Franklin. And there's a cameo from Rawiri Paratene, if you look closely.

Fracture was chosen to open the World Cinema Showcase 2004, and has been invited to play at the Hot Film Festival 2004 (Germany) and Taormina Film Festival 2004 (Italy). It opens in New Zealand on September 9th, and with be playing at the Lido Cinema, Auckland; Art Centre, Christchurch, and a to-be-announced venue in Wellington.

Starring: Kate Elliott's lioness fierceness; Jared Turner's fingerprints; John Noble's bedroom views; Miranda Harcourt's chilly anti-love; Liddy Holloway's caring; Jennifer Ward Lealand's lips; Cliff Curtis's irreverence; Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki's thoughtful questions; Michael Hurst's creepy undertones; Tim Lee's boxing; and Alistair Browning's devastation.



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