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He Died with a Felafel in his Hand (2001)

  Directed by: Richard Lowenstein
Starring: Noah Taylor
Links: He Died with a Felafel in his Hand on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Book
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 5.00 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 153rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"Classic book, not-so-classic film" - a review by mino

He Died With A Felafel In His Hand is the film adaptation of the hugely successful John Birmingham novel of the same name, and has been keenly awaited for some time by Birbingham afficionados. The Felafel book has long been an Australian classic, and has spawned CDs, live theatre, and a sequel, The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco.

This is a movie that has, among fans of the book, inspired both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because it had the potential to be an extraordinarily funny movie, and because Noah Taylor instantly seemed to be perfectly cast as serial share-house resident Danny -- and trepidation because, like all adaptations, it had the potential to disappoint.

Luckily it doesn't, though it seems very much to be a movie that will polarise audiences -- some people will certainly find it to be disjointed, as Felafel (the book) is really not much more than a loosely-strung together series of semi-autobiographical anecdotes, with no real plot to speak of. Screenwriter/director Richard Lowenstein (of Dogs In Space and Say A Little Prayer fame) does his best to remedy this by trying to develop a real storyline, about romance lost and found, suicide, depression, and a young writer struggling with getting his life sorted out. The movie is still far from an epic, of course, but instead becomes a bit more of a 'character-driven' piece than the book, while a more faithful adaptation might come across as nothing more than sketch comedy. There are still plenty of gags, but the focus on the characters means that some of them fall fairly flat.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around Danny, in his 47th share house, and is wrestling with an unsuccesful love life, and some totally crazy mates. A vacant room is filled by Anja (French actress Romane Bohringer), who Danny instantly falls in love with - but is she interested, or just screwing with his head? Anja is a big one for psychological games, which end up rippling the formerly-calm waters of Danny's relationship with his best friend, Sam (Emily Hamilton). After Anja turns up, Danny and Sam's lives are turned upside down, and the relationship between the three of them is the focus of the film from then on. In a reminder of the difference between a meaty Australian film and some of the dross Hollywood serves up, all of the characters are in some way flawed, and we alternately laugh at them, laugh with them, get angry with them, and pity them.

Felafel is funny - if not as funny as the books -- but the romantic subplot gets tedious in places. Danny's angst-ridden musings contain some of the best moments of the film, but can also drag. The gags slow down a bit in the second half, which could have done with some tightening.

All up though, this is a quite enjoyable Aussie film, and well worth seeing to remind you of the potential that Australian movies can have, and of the acting talent available in Australia. You're bound to get some laughs out of it, and in my case, come out very glad you don't live in a share house any more.

mino gives this movie 5 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 29 Aug 2001

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 1
Number of ratings: 2
Average rating: 5.00
Lowest rating: 5 (by pearly, mino)
Highest rating: 5 (by pearly, mino)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. Great black aussie humor, funniest movie in ages.

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from James Garrard on Mon 27 Oct 2003 20:21 #

  2. omg this is THE coolest movie i love it sooo much hahaha anyone know where i can order it online?

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from zoe on Mon 13 Sep 2004 23:56 #

  3. i thought it was really good because it was so random. i especially love the fact they all ignore eachother and have strange rituals in the backyard where they burn the clothes line

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from Clare on Mon 20 Dec 2004 16:23 #

  4. The combination of Richard Lowenstein and Andrew de Groot is hard to beat.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Ryelei on Sat 23 Sep 2006 06:49 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.00 (4 ratings)

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