Sunday 17 January 2010

Domestic (2006)

Director: Katie Hides
Stars: Patricia Cotter and Lawrence Carmichael

My favourite No Festival Required screening of the year is always the selection of short films shown at the Phoenix Art Museum. Here's Selection 2010.
Kyle has a surprise for Yasmin, apparently, one that prompted her coming home early. It isn't doing the dishes though and without anything obvious manifesting itself she can't help but assume that he's just bought more crap again. This all escalates, quickly and dangerously, and the resulting battle in the kitchen is a truly great kung fu affair using whatever weapons might be found to hand. It might sound like a Jackie Chan setup but it's more like the Tadanobu Asano segment of Survive Style 5+, merely performed by a couple of Australians who are sometimes actors and sometimes stunt coordinators and fight directors.

What's most admirable about this short is that while the fight is cleverly staged and takes up much of the running time, it doesn't detract from the story in the slightest. This is how domestic disputes should happen, or is this too Hollywood? No, if this was Hollywood the characters wouldn't look real, the stuntwork wouldn't be this good and the story would have been left for another film entirely. Maybe it was left for The Room, given that we find out at one point that there was a third wheel called Mark. Imagine what this would have been if Patricia Cotter and Lawrence Carmichael had been hired by Tommy Wiseau and writer Brett Snelgrove and director Katie Hides weren't involved at all.

I don't buy into the complaints some users have raised at IMDb, as this isn't aimed at being spousal abuse in the slightest, not least because it's a completely equal opportunity battle. It's a commentary on modern film, surely, because while there's much destruction and almost unending violence, there isn't a drop of blood anywhere and not a bruise to be found. The audience did let out a gasp when Yasmin got punched in the face, but this is the sort of fight that Echo and Ballard got into a couple of times in Dollhouse, imaginative, intricate and hard hitting, but obviously done by people who know precisely what they're doing, so there's no hint of real danger even when the big knives come out. Brilliant.

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