One Perfect Day

UK release date: Mar 26 2008

cast list

Dan Spielman
Leeanna Walsman
Andrew Howard
Nathan Phillips
Abbie Cornish
Rory Williamson
Frank Gallacher
Kerry Armstrong

directed by
Paul Currie

If you thought that Australia’s cinematic output was limited to the (admittedly brilliant) Muriel’s Wedding and Priscillla, Queen Of The Desert, One Perfect Day is your wake-up call. The shooting people down under already host the world’s largest short film festival, the Tropfest – so when a new director from Oz with something unique to say comes along, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

This modern-day fable, loosely based on Orpheus and Eurydice’s story, begins in London with music student Tommy Matisse (Dan Spielman) trying to find his own voice in the Royal Academy of Music, a world dominated by traditional methods and stuffy academia. Thousands of miles away from his love Alysse (Leeanna Walsman) and adoring baby sister Emma (Abbie Cornish), he samples train sounds, insects and all manner of London’s underbelly inhabitants until finally he produces a piece centred around a bag lady whose everyday song is every day ignored.

Back in Melbourne, Emma has fallen pregnant and, her efforts to talk to her introverted brother proving fruitless, she takes to the local club scene unhappy and confused. Alysse introduces her to Trig, a small-time dealer and VJ, who unwittingly gives her a drugs overdose during a party at Trace-Zen-Dance, heart of the local rave scene. Meanwhile, Tommy’s efforts in London get him expelled, and he returns home, literally to face the music, and finds his sister dead, his mother destitute and his girlfriend in possession of a pregnancy test kit.

Searching for some answers, Tommy immerses himself in rave culture, finding his musical voice in a marriage of classical and electronic in the process. There he meets the good and the bad of the scene – ecstatic moments and dodgy deals nestle side-by-side to the incessantly thumping soundtrack. It’s a world in which his sister found comfort and danger, and it’s very far removed from his mother’s suburban house.

What at the outset looks like a glossy celebration of going clubbing quickly becomes a more satisfying cinematic experience. Underneath Lamb, Paul Van Dyk and the rest of the uplifting soundtrack there’s a well thought-out storyline, capably played by a strong cast who construct characters rather more than stereotypes. Even Andrew Howard, as the edgily loathsome, pube-shaving Trace-Zen-Dance owner, introduces much humanity into a role that could easily have been a stereotype of hoodlumry.

Director Paul Currie mixes scenes together as if he were producing a dance video – a style uniquely suited to filming the blurred edges of fantasy and reality, good and bad and of course those club scenes. Yet it’s only really half way through the film that you realise this isn’t just about a classical musician who found his calling as a DJ, or an excuse to play some top tunes. One Perfect Day isn’t a perfect film, but it is one with something important to (loudly) say.

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