I haven’t written about a film before. Partly because I don’t see a great many, and many of those I do can be the kind so ridiculous they leave my mind at the exit of the cinema, if not earlier. Empty calories for the brain. But here we are, and here I go.
Thursday I went to the hometown premiere of Galore, a feature written and directed by Rhys Graham. I confess my interest was piqued in part by my familiarity with Graham’s documentary work but largely by the fact the film is set and filmed entirely in Canberra. I’ve thought and written about this town so frequently I was hungry for another perspective on what is apparently a topic I cannot get over. The film will the interest countless others based on the C factor also – few locals can resist the very novelty of seeing this city fed back at us– a noxious combination of narcissism, self-conciousness and need for attention. Reviews and write-ups of Galore are already much concerned with the shock of it all.
The thing is, the fact that the film is set in Canberra is in no way the most interesting thing about it, but it certainly isn’t the least, either. I thought it would be interesting to write about Galore without referencing Canberra at all, but I have failed so much already.
Forget about that now.
This film has stuck with me, and has come to mind each day since last week. I’ve had a hard time giving shape as to why. I think it might be because Graham captures something masterfully. A certain something about young people, wherever they live. Something to do with the tense, glowering of time, that innumerable glut of days at the end of one school year before another, blissful yet terrifying in its slow crawl. It’s the rightfully set scene for so many life changes, in so many lives. Definitely in mine, maybe yours too, tucked away in everyone, I suspect.
Throughout Galore, days come up and days go down, dragging mesmeric. The sun burns lazily and the cicadas drone and bushfires haze every movement with anxiety.
To be a teenager is to live minute to minute boredom in day to day chaos. To be constantly on edge yet nonplussed, watched closely and easily dismissed. Perhaps at no other time is life so out of control yet seemingly your own invention. Unbearable, delicious. A ricochet of occurrences that you pretend to understand.
Maybe only in films such as Graham’s do we take the time to acknowledge the at times seemingly insurmountable task of living that is set before our young people, and to remember, grimacing, it was a task we faced too. The years when life is experienced so directly, abrasively, and close to the surface. Where the present is all-important and fully inhabited, in a way we eventually forget how. When you fall in love so hard because you don’t do things by halves. ‘Eyes wide,’ the main character narrates ‘unblinking, heart full’.
Galore is a close-to-home take on what I can only suppose is a universal experience, unerringly real, neatly sidestepping pastiche and a minefield of clichés to be delivered with conviction.
This is a film to see to remember yourself, and to remind you what it’s like to be young. And yeah, it’s got to be said, Canberra looks crazy beautiful.