Fuel for the flame

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - Goode’s siz­zle snuffs out the fiz­zle LEIGH PAATSCH Now show­ing State Cinema Bare ne­ces­si­ties: P6- 7

Di­rec­tor: Jonathan Teplitzky

( Get­tin’ Square)

Stars: Matthew Goode, Bo­jana No­vakovic, Rachel Grif­fiths, Essie Davis, Jack Heanly ON those oc­ca­sions where Burn­ing Man re­ally catches alight, the film gives off the heat of an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally ag­gres­sive, lively and hard- hit­ting Aus­tralian drama.

How­ever, when­ever that flame sput­ters and looks like go­ing out, your af­fec­tion for the pic­ture can get some­what chilly.

There is def­i­nitely a lot to ad­mire about Burn­ing Man, and if you can for­give its flaws a lit­tle, then you won’t leave dis­ap­pointed.

Matthew Goode ( pic­tured) stars as Tom, a Bri­tish chef liv­ing and work­ing in Syd­ney. In a gen­uinely strik­ing early scene – the cin­e­matog­ra­phy of Gary Phillips ( Candy) is stun­ning through­out the film – Tom is se­ri­ously in­jured in a car ac­ci­dent and rushed to hos­pi­tal.

A dif­fi­cult and volatile char­ac­ter ( yes, as most chefs are), Tom takes some get­ting to know as Burn­ing Man con­cen­trates on chart­ing his very che­quered past.

The fiery foodie’s time in Aus­tralia has been de­fined by the women he has be­friended, bed­ded or bid farewell. For bet­ter and for worse, this as­pect of the script some­times gives Burn­ing Man the un­for­tu­nate feel of a check­list that must be worked through.

Mean­while, a fever­ish need to switch time­frames fast and of­ten also tends to muf­fle the dis­tinc­tive voice of film­maker Jonathan Teplitzky’s best ideas here.

It might be an un­fair com­par­i­son, but an­other new re­lease this week, We Need To Talk About Kevin, de­liv­ers a vir­tual mas­ter­class in non- lin­ear sto­ry­telling.

That movie re­peat­edly cuts to the right desti­na­tion on the cal­en­dar with ruth­less pre­ci­sion. When Burn­ing Man tries the same tech­nique, it seems, out of worry, there is less to Tom than meets the eye.

Enough, then, of the neg­a­tives. The re­sound­ing pos­i­tive of Burn­ing Man is the first- class per­for­mance of Goode in the lead role, which truly leaves a last­ing mark when­ever the film takes its big­gest risks.

Goode is so com­mit­ted to em­body­ing the worst of Tom that he al­most seems to in­tim­i­date his fel­low cast mem­bers. This takes some do­ing when you’re shar­ing the screen with ac­com­plished names such as Rachel Grif­fiths, Essie Davis and Bo­jana No­vakovic ( a stand­out as Tom’s late wife).

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