Down Under | Review

DOWN UNDER is a controversial Australian movie, a movie that tells two sides of the Cronulla riots aftermath from 2005. As soon as I saw this trailer I needed to see it and was concerned how they would handle this story without getting death threats from both sides. In the 2016 world climate with a hate mongering almost Nazi abomination nearly the President of the United States, where Australian’s have an ever growing naive attitude bordering on hate towards Muslims DOWN UNDER is the perfect movie the world needs. This film needs a worldwide release and Abe Forsythe needs to win an Oscar for his sublime and utterly clever movie.

DOWN UNDER releases tomorrow, 11th August in Australia from the peeps at StudioCanal, it runs for 9omins and is rated MA15+.

BY JASON KING

DOWN UNDER SYNOPSIS:

Fact:

DOWN UNDER commences with about five minutes of actual footage from the Cronulla riots. It was an appalling time from Sydney’s history, a time bought about by cultural differences, naive idiots, hatred, mob mentality, revenge and fear. It started when on 4th December 2005, a fight broke out between a group of volunteer surf lifesavers and youths of Middle Eastern descent. These incidents were widely commented on in the Sydney media and are considered to be a key factor in a racially motivated confrontation the following weekend. The Aussie bogan side of the conflict gathered in Cronulla, a group of about 5000 people for a peaceful demonstration about their unhappiness with the Middle Eastern Community.

Of course with Aussie bogans alcohol, lynch mob mentality and too much arrogant and ignorant testosterone led them to beat up a Middle Eastern youth who walked into the crowd. This led to many of them being beaten, basically any Middle Eastern-appearing person was bashed.

On the other side of the Australian coin was the Middle Eastern community. They have their own honour, beliefs, their intolerance of continual racial harassment and their need for standing up for themselves. They launched their own attacks of revenge and it was generally open warfare on the streets of South East Sydney.

Fiction:

Above is what truly happened, and DOWN UNDER shows a black comedy fictional take of both sides in the aftermath of the riots. Where rival factions wanted to claim their land. Both groups, Muslim and Bogan Aussies are both Australians and as the movie tagline says: “AUSTRALIA V AUSTRALIA – NOBODY WINS.”

We have a group of bogans driving around wanting to bash Lebs, we have a bunch of Lebs (Muslims) driving around wanting to show they are not afraid and will bash Aussies if need be.

 

Down Under The Lebs image

 

 

DIRECTION AND WRITING:

Abe Forsythe directs DOWN UNDER, I am pretty certain I used to crush on Forsythe in ALWAYS GREENER or some other Australian TV show. He also wrote, starred and directed his feature debut with NED, the Ned Kelly comedy. This may explain the Kelly connection with DOWN UNDER. This is a satirical comedy, a black black comedy. A movie that is full of irony and messages and some occasional downright dreadful comedy. Thirty minutes in to this movie I wanted to walk out, it was like I was watching a terrible version of HOUSOS or FAT PIZZA. It was showing the comedic worst of the two factions. I thought it was bloody stupid.

While a few of these scenes were funny most of them were just exaggerated comic highlights of each of the cultures, but there was this underlying message and darkness lurking in the background and my interest was piqued. And this darkness grows, when the two sides meet up the movie is no longer a comedy, it is painful and it is scary and the underlying message – it is fucking pointless, and these two sides, regardless of their culture are basically the same, they are AUSTRALIANS.

As a black comedy be warned this pushes the envelope of being offensive, it has a lot of racial hatred, verbal abuse to a Down Syndrome kid and a pregnant lady with a foul tongue that belongs in a sewer and that is only scratching the surface.

 

Down Under 2016 movie image

 

THE SIDES:

On the Bogan side Jason and Ditch want to fight, Ditch has his entire head in a bandage, you need to see the movie to find out the irony of that one. They want to be seen as more respected in their area, the Bogans have divvied up their section of town to patrol but they want to prove that they are capable of bashing Lebs. Shit-Stick is a stoner, he wants nothing more than to watch Lord of the Rings with his cousin, Evan (who happens to have down-syndrome). They care little for the hatred going on. But Jason controls Shit-Stick and they need a car to drive around in and so Shit-Stick and Evan are forced to join them.

On the Muslim side you have Hassim (he is so gorgeous!!), he just wants to study and have nothing to do with it but since the riots his brother is missing. Lifelong friend (of sorts) Nick is determined to get out and retaliate against Bogans and somehow a motley crew is formed, Hassim basically peer pressured into joining the gang.

 

Down Under Lincoln Younes image

 

ACTING:

The acting is top notch. The characters are quite annoying and over the top, especially in the first half of the movie. But the actors do it well. There are a few scenes of mayhem when there are four people all yelling in a car and it hurt my head but they all managed it well. Lincoln Younes as Hassim (above) steels the show for me, it was his story I followed the most because he seemed to have his head screwed on. Sadly for me, I was Shit-Stick growing up, a huge stoner who cared for little and watching Lord of the Rings with my best friends would have been my highlight over going out. The rest of the cast are all admirable. Special mention to Chris Bunton as Evan, such an innocent person who had such an interesting character in the movie.

Oh and keep your eyes out for David Field’s crazy character Vic – it’s way out there and hysterical.

 

Down Under Damon Herriman image

 

MESSAGES:

DOWN UNDER screams messages throughout its entirety. We see two groups of culturally different Australians doing exactly the same thing in their own way. The music they listen to, the clothes they wear, how they react, thoughts on things, all the same but completely different. Australia is basically the cultural country of the world but is at the moment being steered into divisive territory. Call it my own thoughts on the world but the government and larger corporations would much prefer us hating each other and scared of Muslims and terrorism so we stop looking at them. You can see it with the Liberal Party, whenever something bad is being discovered about them and is about to blow up an announcement is made about security or refugees.

Forsythe is trying to tell us we are basically “same same but different.” We just need to find a common ground. (Mine is food, I can get along with anyone over food.) In DOWN UNDER everything is fear driving them forward, they have nothing against the people they are trying to hurt, they just know it is what they should be doing. In a better world Shit-Stick and Hassim would laugh and cry watching LORD OF THE RINGS together. But Hassim is talked into fighting purely on the assumption his brother is probably dead, killed in the riots.

DON’T PICK UP THE WEAPON:

Shit-Stick fires a gun that explodes in his face – a metaphor for the entire movie and society at large. You start to fight, you will get hurt. You pick up the weapon, you will be hurt by one. Even when the two sides are standing in front of each other they never talk, they assume it is a war, they are all young and should be drinking together instead they pick up weapons against each other and as soon as the first person is hurt his friend sees him hurt and must hurt back in defence and revenge and so on and so on until annihilation. Welcome to humanity.

 

Down Under Movie Poster image

 

IN CONCLUSION:

DOWN UNDER is brilliant – abundantly clever, a movie I considered walking out on in the first half that became one of my favourite movies of the year by the end. Showing the extremes of our culture from having incredible fun and comfort in our circles to death from stupidity and fear. What is the problem? Not talking! Not understanding! Listening to bullshit from corporations and politicians that want us afraid, that way the sheep are easier to herd.

While writing this article it reminded me of something I saw on Facey yesterday……….

Australia will not be destroyed by refugees, same-sex marriage, Muslims, atheists, abortion or the minority. But rather by unreasonable fears, uncontrolled hatred, divisive politics, unethical politicians, deliberate misinformation and a gullible public.

Dear reader, this is valid worldwide, not just to this movie and Australia – get to know your neighbours, after all we have one planet and we are all in this together.

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.