This low-key love letter to Tasmania made me want to hang out with director Ted Wilson and his engaging family.
Ted Wilson plays Ted Wilson, a writer who is returning home to Hobart after losing his job writing a weekly magazine column. Staying with his sister Jessie (played by his real sister) he is surrounded by the chaos of kids and suburban life. His mum Colleen (played by his mum) has been saving up jobs for him to do around the house and everyone is supportively optimistic about his work prospects. Aimless and perhaps looking at his home town with a new perspective, he lethargically circles around the idea of writing a book about Tasmania’s ‘upper order batsmen’, David Boon in particular.
Filmed like a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary and obviously based on a lot of real Wilson family stories and dynamics, what makes this film so charming is the naturalistic performances of the real life cast. Before the screening Wilson gave a rambling but heartfelt introduction that made a lot of sense once I watched the film and saw the same amiable and aimless Ted up on screen. He said he gave 14 hours of footage to his editor, (Yanni Kronenberg I think) and it is a credit to him that he has extracted a story that retains the authenticity of its material and also has a gentle and poignant narrative arc. I couldn’t stay for the Q&A afterwards and I would have loved to hear more about how much was fact and what was created.
The pervasive theme seems to be about nostalgia and purpose and woven through is a wry affection for the small-town sense of community that is Tasmania. Wilson’s family are the kind that you wish you knew and could hang out with for a weekend of board games and bonfires. They have a no-nonsense kindness and ordinariness that would envelop you in its warmth. There are lots of funny moments, many from the kids Arthur and Felix who were sitting in front of me at the screening and were gleefully restless as they saw their younger selves up on screen.
This is Wilson’s first feature. I hope he makes more.
Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.