A version of this review appeared in The Age, August 12, 2010.
This first feature from the Australian writer-director Mark Fitzpatrick began as a play and still feels like one – which isn't wholly a bad thing, given the ingenious way Fitzpatrick limits most of the action to a single location.
A group of workers are made redundant, but have two weeks to go before they receive their payouts. Daily, they turn up to an empty factory where they have little to do but drink, play cards and exchange macho taunts, with their foreman Jack (Colin Friels) usually running the show. If they desert the premises before their time is up, they risk being sacked without compensation; in theory, any one of them could be a spy for the boss, but suspicion falls chiefly on David (David Field), a mysterious newcomer.
Despite the promise of this set-up, Fitzpatrick lets himself down by allowing his leads to give blustering, obvious performances, and piling on melodramatic coincidences rather than developing the initial idea. As a director, he shows some imagination in getting value out of a confined space, but there are also some pointlessly flashy camera angles and elementary errors (such as depicting both sides of a phone conversation – a quick way to defuse claustrophobia). A few moments recall Reservoir Dogs (1992), which might give some sense of where the story is headed. Well before the forced, violent climax rolls around, Fitzpatrick has clearly lost track of whatever he meant to say about the foibles of Australian men.