Any Questions For Ben? (2012)

I highly recommend seeing this film – it isn’t your usual Australian film. It was different. Not in the sense that it was innovative or brought something new to the table in terms of filmmaking, but different for Australia. There were no outback scenes, hardship story lines of living in a desolate country with no water, and every second word wasn’t “mate”. This film was actually the opposite.

It’s everything that an Australian wants to see in a film, to tell the world that this is unidentifiable to our homeland, but we’re damn good at making films! Well… almost.

There was something that couldn’t shake me from giving this film a top-notch star rating, or even make it onto a list of top films. It wasn’t the editing, that was great (except for the few thousand text on-screen title cards for the entire first act). And it definitely wasn’t the acting, because for the first time I actually fell in and out of believing this was 100% Australian made – there was a sort of international script that let the character flourish.

But among all that, this film seemed to forget that their audience (who the director/writers themselves said) was of an international kind.

I’m not going to lie. I laughed, like everyone in the cinema for the entire duration of the film. From opening titles to closing credits it was a blast (highly recommend sticking around). But that was for us, as Australians – not internationally. I knew half the cast, they live in my television set every night, I recognised faces that I couldn’t put names to because I had seen them in Australian five episode long series, I knew Rachael Taylor because she was in Transformers and more recently Red Dog.

But unfortunately, this film was made for Australians by Australians – but that was the only reason they could have received the funding they did. When I was invited to watch the film as its first public viewing in the filming location (Melbourne), I was sold the film as, “From the guys who brought you The Castle, and The Dish”.

That’s fine, but if that’s how you’re buying your Australian viewers into the cinema (and it does take a lot of work to actually get Australians to watch Australian films), then that’s most definitely going to be the scheme to get international audiences to pay to watch this film. And this is beyond a doubt the platform that Australian tourism took when they were going to film in “The Most Livable City” taking us on a journey to explore Melbourne.

Now does this come down to the writers not believing in the Australian actors and their ability to deliver lines, or is it the notion that our cinema association doesn’t believe we can produce films that doesn’t follow the three act system, contain a happy ending, and always let the underdog win. The answer for that doesn’t belong here, but it takes a little bit of the blow for the fact this film could have been so much more.

We live in a “grab every opportunity to sell people to come to Australia” society for the Australian film industry, and hopefully the international exposure that the internet has takes many, many Australian filmmakers to fame for having the passion, not the selling point.

Okay, so probably there’s a little more to the film than the aforementioned scenes. So being introduced to every main character with a freeze frame and a text on-screen title saying their name and relationship to Ben (Josh Lawson) was extremely overused. And then it begs to question that when Ben and Adam (Christian Clark) go to New Zealand you don’t actually find out until several scenes later – yeah even for an Australian watching a film from my own home town I had no idea you were overseas. There are some beautifully shot scenes, and was extremely nice to see summer days in their shots because when they filmed we had some severe weather warnings on both sides of the spectrum. Maybe that’s all that really bugged me, but as I opened with, I highly recommend watching this film for fun.