Movie Review - Burning Man

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"Burning man - braised human condition with pan fried grief, lightly seasoned with sex, drizzled with laughs and served on a stylish platter"

Nonlinear film making provides a challenge to both the director and the audience, it forces the plot to unravel like a whodunit detective story, where the scenes are not in sequence but instead jump along a time line. We are provided with snippets of each characters' experiences and motivations. It's from these tiny packets of information that we attempt to guess where the narrative is headed. For the director the challenge becomes one of slight of hand where they show the audience enough to move the story forward however endeavour to maintain tension.

Burning man by director Jonathan Teplitzky is a remarkable film which follows a British chef Tom (Matthew Goode) in Sydney as his life is starting to fall apart in the wake of recent events. Tom is married to Sarah (Bojana Novakovic) they have an eight year son Oscar (Jack Heanly). We are given an all access tour of Tom's world which at times is quite confronting and disturbing. The nonlinear style of the film allows us to know what the consequences will be for Tom's actions as we have seen into the future. This makes for some truly cringe worthy moments. To reveal more of the plot details would do an injustice to the film.  Australian icons Rachael Griffiths and Garry McDonald are at there best.

In 2003 Jonathon Teplitzy gave us Gettin' square, the small crime film starring Sam Worthington, David Wenham and many more. This was a great little film and has one of the finest scenes in an Australian film for the past fifteen years where David Wenham's character is testifying in court. The film was packed full of strong Australian actors who clearly knew the type of film they were in and it played very tongue in cheek. Now nearly eight years later Jonathon Teplitzy presents a much smaller more intimate portrait of life. The greatest strength of this film is that it is set around Tom's career as a chef. We constantly see Tom slaving away in the kitchen, haggling with providores or simply not being there for the important moments in his family's life because he's at work. Tom is so committed to the success of his restaurant, we sense the burden and the anxiety attached to the hospitality industry. This could have been a clichéd example of a chef's life, however we are shown an honest depiction of the hardships, sacrifices and rewards. The fact that Tom is a chef brings the black comedy element to the film which to anyone familiar with the industry is prevalent. The film laughs at topics ranging from sex, grief and even cancer. The comedy is to show tenderness and relieve the tension and it is used to precision.

The editing in this film is breathtaking, the pace is controlled to perfection. At times when Tom is needed in six places at once we truly feel his frustrations and disappointment in the world and those around him. During the more tender moments of  the film the scenes linger and we are allowed to savour the more wholesome flavours which balances out well with the less palatable moments. Burning man is a very ambitious film which takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster, it is grounded in reality and tells its story by way of great characters and exceptional presentation.

I highly recommend this film and hopefully it is the start of a fresh wave of Australian productions. 

Bon Appétit!

Burning Man is in cinemas on November 17.

(This brilliant review was provided by my good pal, Stu.)


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