Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - ENGLISH TEACHER: Now show­ing State Cin­ema

Hugh Lau­rie, Xzan­n­jah, Healesville Joel, Eka Darville.

An­drew Adam­son ( The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia)



ADAPTED from the best- sell­ing novel by Lloyd Jones, Mr Pip is a movie com­ing from a good place but des­tined to take you to a bad place.

While in no way a to­tal downer of an ex­pe­ri­ence, it still might be wise to steel your­self for a few se­vere jolts along the way.

The set­ting is Bougainville Is­land, in the east of Pa­pua New Guinea.

It is here, in the late 1980s, that a dis­pute be­tween PNG mil­i­tary sep­a­ratists and for­eign min­ing in­ter­ests has es­ca­lated into a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Cut off from the out­side world and un­fairly bear­ing the brunt of a bru­tal govern­ment crack­down, the good peo­ple of Bougainville are quite rightly fear­ing the worst.

When­ever the au­thor­i­ties pay a visit, one face in par­tic­u­lar stands out in the crowd. He is the only white man left liv­ing on Bougainville since the cri­sis took hold.

Mr Watts ( Hugh Lau­rie) is an English­man, a for­mer ac­tor mar­ried to a lo­cal woman. A quiet, so­cially awk­ward man, Watts has re­luc­tantly ac­cepted the role of com­mu­nity school­teacher in the ab­sence of any­one bet­ter qual­ifi ed.

Much of his cur­ricu­lum is cen­tred on read­ing aloud from the clas­sic Charles Dick­ens novel Great Ex­pec­ta­tions.

This seem­ingly quaint choice of book ( and the power of its prose) goes on to have fate­ful


Hugh Lau­rie stars as Mr Watts in the pow­er­ful and co- star Xzan­n­jah, who plays Matilda. im­pli­ca­tions for the fu­ture of all on Bougainville Is­land. In par­tic­u­lar, an in­quis­i­tive young girl named Matilda ( im­pres­sively played by new­comer Xzan­n­jah).

The highly emo­tive ap­proach em­ployed by writer- direc­tor An­drew Adam­son in telling this story will not be to all tastes.

An un­ortho­dox com­bi­na­tion of magic re­al­ism ( where Matilda re- imag­ines the Dick­ens yarn on Bougainville) and ex­plicit vi­o­lence ( the vis­its by govern­ment forces are fright­en­ing in their au­then­tic­ity) takes some con­sid­ered pro­cess­ing on the part of the viewer.

How­ever, hav­ing lived in PNG for an ex­tended pe­riod in his youth, it is clear that Adam­son has a grasp of this un­usual part of the world that many fi lm­mak­ers would not.

A su­perb an­chor­ing per­for­mance by Lau­rie helps sim­plify some of the com­plex themes in play when nec­es­sary.

While the fi lm does have some ob­vi­ous prob­lems ar­riv­ing at a sat­is­fac­tory end­ing, it still earns its keep as a brave and sub­tly am­bi­tious drama in its best stretches.

THE COUN­SELOR ( MA15+) About Time Cap­tain Phillips Coun­selor Grav­ity Lovelace Metallica: Through the Never Mr Pip Para­noia Rush Run­ner, Run­ner Thanks for Shar­ing Thor: The Dark World The Rocket 2 Guns

●B A+ D A+ - B B E B - C C A B

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Mr Pip; above right, Lau­rie

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