The first two weeks of my stay in Australia have exposed me to many aspects of Australian culture. Being a big movie fan, I was excited to get the chance to watch a true Australian movie. The extent of my experience with Aussie films is pretty limited, generally only either films with Australian actors (usually using American accents) or movies filmed in Australia by American studios.
I’d heard from just about every Australian at Monash who had an opinion of the movie that The Castle was a quintessential landmark of Australian cinema. Filmed on a budget of AU$19,000, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But as I’ve learned from my time here, going into things with no expectations is generally the way to go.
The Castle is about a family who struggle to keep their home after a neighboring airport seizes it for an expansion project. Most of the film is much more upbeat than the plot might suggest. The plot is essentially there to keep the movie flowing, as much of The Castle is centered on the daily life of the Kerrigan’s.
Dale, the youngest member of the Kerrigan family, narrates the film in documentary form. The Kerrigan’s are your typical middle class family. Darryl, the patriarch of the family, is the film’s driving force with his appreciation of the little things in life and his generally upbeat, loving nature. Darryl is a lot like The Office’s Michael Scott in that he’s a simpleton without a mean bone in his body.
It also features Eric Bana (Troy, Munich) in his first film role. I don’t know how many die hard Eric Bana fans there are, but it might be worth watching just for that.
The biggest question that most Americans would have before watching The Castle deals with whether or not the humor translates. While I’m sure I missed a few things being a foreigner to Australian English, I found myself laughing hysterically for most of the movie. The Castle has much of the situational comedy that one would find in a 90s indie movie complete with the charm of its characters.
I highly recommend The Castle, even if you know nothing about Australia. It’s a hilarious feel good comedy that any fan of film will enjoy. David vs. Goliath stories are always entertaining and The Castle succeeds without feeling clichéd or generic. We see that far too often in film today.