Distance fails to make the heart grow fonder
MY wife is a huge fan of British actor Robson Green. But when she saw his interview with Andrew Denton last year and realised that in person he is a more uncomplicated and therefore less interesting fellow than she had expected, she decided that what she likes is his personification of Tony Hill, a psychologist with a PhD in serial killers, in Wire in the Blood. So I was eager to hear her reaction to Green’s role in Make or Break as an accountant who migrates to Australia with his controlling and recently unfaithful Australian wife and their two children.
For me, the attraction was the presence of Susie Porter ( Make or Break is a UKTV- Fox World coproduction, and Green is the star import). She first grabbed my attention with her cameo in David Caesar’s Idiot Box , which includes this post- coital remark, delivered in the pitch- perfect voice of a Sydney western suburbs teenager: ‘‘ Is that it? I’ve had pisses longer than that.’’
Porter has held my attention since, and she is the best thing in this odd tale written and directed by Mike Bullen, writer of such British hits as Cold Feet , drawing on his family’s experience as five- year migrants to Australia.
Several powerful themes — love, betrayal and infertility — don’t quite gel in what is meant to be light entertainment. Add sibling rivalry, a strange yet burly man who steps out of the shadows on occasion to punch Neil ( Green) in the face; and a script studded with pungent wisecracks, and the result is neither outrageously funny nor deeply moving.
My bride gave Green’s performance a relaxed OK: his character is featureless and passive initially, then the comedy begins to be generated around him when he interacts with sister- in- law Beth ( Porter) and her husband, builder Matt ( Jack Finsterer), whose home on Sydney’s northern beaches Neil and Kate ( Helen Thomson) move into.
The comedy ramps up as Neil attempts to follow Kate’s instruction that he have a one- night stand to balance her affair with a fellow teacher, the spur for their emigration: she is adamant that it is the only way they can hold their marriage together. On this fanciful rock the drama founders, for lack of a believable premise. However, Neil’s quest, aided by Matt and his blue- collar offsiders, is the excuse for some snappy dialogue, such as: ‘‘ The problem is who are you going to root.’’
‘‘ Yeah, you wouldn’t want to go off half- cocked.’’
But it turns out Beth and Matt are on their sixth attempt at impregnation by IVF, which draws out some deep- seated resentments between Beth and Kate. And you can see where that’s heading, can’t you?
Odd tale: Robson Green and Susie Porter as a not- so- happy couple