Made In Australia – AAFFN Film Review
Made in Australia film by Matthew Victor Pastor – An AAFFN Review
Esoteric, animalistic, despair. These are the things true love is often made of, not the sanitized sweetness that romance novels portray. So too, Made In Australia has those same characteristics, for it is a story about the kind of love that makes a person feel crushed, not worshiped, yet possibly wiser along the way.
Pastor has directed a film that blurs lines between biography and fiction, with himself both behind and in front of the camera. He is a versatile director, covering self-narration and quirkiness in some earlier works, a beautiful depiction of being alone in a foreign city (GHOST MAN) and playful yet menacing storylines in others (RANDOM).
The film has some beautiful cinematography but it is not sentimental. It is raw, sometimes explicit, and a sometimes uncomfortable window into Pastor’s exploration of an intimate relationship. His lead female actor Janice Keung was also his real life partner at the time of filming. He films both her and himself naked, bloodied, scarred and vulnerable.
Made In Australia also holds up a mirror to the Asian diasporic experience as similarly uncomfortable, yet very intriguing. Perhaps in a genre all it’s own. It is not a glowing feel good ‘ethnic’ themed film as seen in BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM overseas, or more locally, STRICTLY BALLROOM in Australia. Nor is it a narrative of an intergenerational struggle avoiding poverty and escaping the ghosts and sorrow that can come with migration in the way the excellent THE HOME SONG STORIES and MOTHERFISH films followed. Pastor’s film is more surreal, stronger in angst and lust, more brave in depicting the messiness of some human desires, and quite honest in how flawed we can be as humans, lovers, and individuals trying to make sense of our hearts, homes and homelands. Indeed, the film may offend some viewers with its nudity, sexual references, violent themes and course language. For others, it may just be grittily realistic. Both reactions will no doubt arise in any audience viewing.
In terms of being Made In Australia, the film is by an Australian, who has Asian-Australian heritage, and is filmed in Australia and Asia. There is filmic nods to multiple cultures, and with good choices of locations to elaborate the themes of transnational mobility and attempts to belong to two or more countries.
This is a feature film that is reminds us that life is risky, that art can pay homage to the past while having high moments of originality in also taking risks, and that love and identity are not easy things to understand, but worth it anyway.
Review by AAFFN’s Indigo Willing. Film screens at Melbourne Underground FF 8 Sept 2013.