The King Is Dead (2012) – Australia
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 14th January 2013
Reviewed as part of Film Critic Circle of Australia Awards Nomination 2012
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Directed by: Rolf de Heer
Starring: Daniel Wyllie, Gary Waddell, Bojana Novakovic, Anthony Hayes, Luke Ford and Aaron J. March.
The problem with “The King is Dead” mainly lies with its poor pacing, out of tone humor, distant characters and non existence direction. It is not that the film is poorly acted, but most of the characters seem rather disinterested. Sure, director Rolf de Heer (former Cannes winning recipient) is aiming for an off-beat black comedy, but it certainly doesn’t help when the film lacks focus and not to say the least, the film constantly suffers from poor direction, incoherent editing and amateurish cinematography. At the end of the day, it didn’t feel like a film, but rather like a play on stage and that’s where the real problem exists.
Perhaps the best thing to come out of the film is Bojana Novakovic’s performance and displaying being given a role with almost zero character, she able to be the most realistic human out of the lot. Novakovic have previously impressed in films like “Edge of Darkness” and 2011’s”Burning Man”, but here she seems out of place and most likely a forgettable role in her filmography. Dan Wyllie (“Underbelly”) lacks the conventional leading star presence and his overacting is at times more annoying than convincing. The duo lacks chemistry and their interactions at times seem more awkward than natural. Perhaps the worst actor to grace the film comes in the stoned character of Gary Waddell, who plays the constantly drunk and demented character in an almost deadpan manner. I wouldn’t say, it is performance, as all Waddell does is stare at you and speak like a drunk. Some may call this acting, but when there is zero substance behind it, it all feels rather weird.
All in all, “The King is Dead” is a bad film and probably not the type of the film that will help the Australian film industry. The real disappointment is that both the director, actors and actresses involved have done far better works. When the thing to come out of the movie is the shocker brutal beatings, you know that the film lacks integrity. I am not trying to say that Rolf de Heer’s intention to make a black comedy about annoying neighbours is entirely wrong, but the comic moments are far and in between. Perhaps, if the director is trying to say that it may well be due to the annoying and noisy neighbour that keeps the sparks of the relationship between Novakovic and Wyllie alive and interesting. If that is really the case, this may well be a different film altogether. However, there are far better things to do than sit through 100 minutes of everything bad about film making. (Neo 2013)
I rated it 3/10