Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Show of Hands: Movie Review

Show of Hands: Movie Review

Rating 7/10
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Craig Hall, Stephen Lovatt, Chelsie Preston-Crayford
Director: Anthony McCarten
It's a simple idea - a contest of endurance.
Strangers from all walks of life gather in a Taranaki town to try their shot at winning a new Landrover Discovery, thanks to a local garage.
All they have to do is to place their hand on the car and go the distance to be the last man (or woman) standing without taking their hand off.
A simple premise for a film - and one which you would think wouldn't really cut it over 90 minutes or so.
But you would be completely wrong.
Anthony McCarten's take on the whole endurance competition is actually a crafty character study of what makes people tick and how far they're willing to go for a reward.
Melanie Lynskey is Jess, a single mum and parking warden who is first seen crying in an alcove after issuing a ticket; Craig Hall is Tom, an arrogant competitively cocky man who claims to write greeting cards.
These two find themselves forced together on the parking lot as they compete for the car.
Among the other competitors are an elderly security guard, a millionaire's son, a Pacific Island street kid, a car thief, a young woman looking for love - all of them are seeking some form of vindication and salvation by being the competition's winner.
The film's based on actual events - one contest like this took place in Lower Hutt in the 1980s and saw a world record set.
Show of Hands is definitely a Kiwi affair with music from Don McGlashan and good solid performances from the rest of the ensemble cast.
McCarten's film is based on his own book - and he masterfully gets the best out of all his actors; Melanie Lynskey is superb as the quiet Jess, a mum driven by tragedy and who always tries to do the right thing - no matter how it makes her feel.
Craig Hall's Tom is another matter - he is an insufferable character right from the start - although, as is obligatory in these kinds of films, he treads a path to redemption as he pushes himself as far as he can possibly go to win - not only the car, but acceptance from others.
You will get sucked into Show of Hands from the start and while it's pretty obvious who in the competition will be going down to the wire, there are still a few surprises to be had.

And I guarantee you'll never care as much about a mad dash to get fish and chips from a Taranaki takeaway...

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