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The Hard Word (2002)

  Directed by: Scott Roberts
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Rachel Griffiths, Guy Pearce, Damien Richardson, Robert Taylor
Links: The Hard Word on the IMDb, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama
Awards: AFI Awards: Best Film 2002 (nominee)

This movie gets: 6.00 (3 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 129th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

The Hard Word (2002) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Till Human Voices Wake Us (2001).

"Fundamentally Disappointing" - a review by mino

This movie promised so much. A great cast (Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Joel Edgerton) should have made for a classic Aussie movie: instead, we get a hodge-podge.

The basic plot is OK, but not anything that hasn't been done before. A trio of brothers who have all been in and out of jail plan the one big heist that is going to set them up for life, with the help of their crooked lawyer and a couple of corrupt cops. Needless to say, things don't always go smoothly. A fine (if a little tired) idea, but unfortunately the execution just doesn't come off.

The overall goal seems to be "thriller/black comedy" — but unfortunately, it doesn't really live up to its promise in either regard. The thrills are few and far between, largely because there's nothing new; the comedy works in one or two spots, but I think the rule should always be "if you're going to do comedy, make it funny". Many moments left the audience collectively shaking their heads: the 'lava lamp' scene sticks out in particular.

The acting is good from Pearce and Griffiths particularly, as the leader of the gang and his wife, but some of the other performances are not up to scratch — particularly the phenomenally-execrable Robert Taylor as Frank the lawyer, who is frankly quite painful to watch, being even worse than the merely-quite-terrible Vince Colosimo as a bent cop. The acting is a sort of 'high camp/melodrama' blend, which I suspect may be intended to help achieve an 'homage' to a sort of 'classic' 'film noir' 'aesthetic'. Instead, it 'comes across' as 'tired', 'clichèd' and 'generally shithouse': some actors just can't seem to keep their accents even remotely straight.

Predictability is also a problem; most of the plot 'twists' were, I think, seen coming from a long way off by most of the audience (though there are always a few stragglers).

Perhaps I'm being overly harsh: it was a quite enjoyable movie, and if you want to switch your brain off and see an entertaining hour-and-a-half of Aussie crime caper, you could do a lot worse — if nothing else, the time-honoured Australian sport of location-spotting should keep Melbourne & Sydney viewers entertained for a while.

To sum a movie up in one word should be next to impossible, but unfortunately coming up with 'The Hard Word' to describe this film is surprisingly easy. That word is 'tryhard'.

mino gives this movie 5 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 23 May 2002

"Aussie drama that's rough 'round the edges" - a review by pearly

This is the story of the Twentyman brothers; Dale (Guy Pearce) - the smart one, Mal (Damien Richardson) - the culinary genius, and Shane (Joel Edgerton) - the psycho one. The movie begins with the brothers in jail, but their co-hort lawyer Frank is in with a couple of coppers and manages to get them out for more crime-sprees. The brothers find themselves involved in a ploy to rob the bookies on Melbourne Cup Day - but don't worry because, as Mal says, "no-one ever gets hurt".

It's always enjoyable to watch a movie that's been filmed in your home town. Being a Me!burnian, lots of my time whilst watching this movie was spent thinking "That's Elizabeth Street!" and "Hey, there's that local comedian!". And for an Aussie film, The Hard Word is surprisingly slick - it's a good looking film. The only thing that aesthetically bothered me was Guy Pearce's prosthetic nose - it just didn't look quite right, and hampered my ability to be able to watch him as a genuine character. However, he looks edgy, and, when combined with the other two brothers, they work well.

Apart from his nose, Guy Pearce is excellent as the brooding eldest Twentyman brother. His wife Carol is played by an also excellent Rachel Griffiths, and their chemistry reminded me of that of David Wenham and Toni Collette in The Boys (1997). Rachel is high on my list of top female actors, and since she got the role as Brenda in the best-show-on-TV series Six Feet Under she can do no wrong.

But for my money, Joel Edgerton steals the show. Maybe I'm just biased because I loved him so much as Will in TV's The Secret Life of Us, but I think this role proves he's worthy of being called an actor - it differs so much from laid-back Will, and his boring role as Owen in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).

This movie has much of the darkness of The Boys and Chopper (2000), and if you liked either of those, you'll enjoy this too. It also has a dark humour running through it (the brothers' rendition of "what's the colour of a 2 cent piece" is particularly memorable), that attaches you to these crims - the use of jailspeak similar to pig latin was an interesting aspect that gave the film a bit more depth. And, thankfully, this is a film that doesn't join all the dots for you, but lets you sit back and think a little for yourself.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 23 May 2002

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 2
Number of ratings: 3
Average rating: 6.00
Lowest rating: 5 (by em_fiction, mino)
Highest rating: 8 (by pearly)
 
Rating Percentage
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3 
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4 
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5 
 67%
6 
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7 
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8 
 33%
9 
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Reader comments

  1. OMG joel edgerton WAS SOO HOT IN THIS MOVIE!!! it made it all good, and i loved all the characters they were really interesting to watch and i loved all of joel's scenes awww this film let his acting ability really shine. His body was absolutley like GREAT 2 look at aswell, top performance from him

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from michelle on Tue 13 Jan 2004 18:40 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.00 (1 rating)

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