Dvd let­ter­box

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film -

GO­ING by the blis­ter­ing re­views Hick re­ceived on its lim­ited cin­e­matic re­lease last year, you’d be for­given for think­ing the best thing about Der­ick Mar­tini’s film now be­ing avail­able on DVD was that you’ve got a shiny new bar­be­cue drinks coaster — one that sparkles rain­bow colours when the sun hits it.

And in that you’d be very, very mis­taken. I don’t care that some of the world’s most prom­i­nent re­view­ers saved their most sneer­ing tones for this tale that’s half whimsy, half bru­tal re­al­ity and star­ring the won­der­ful Chloe Moretz ( Kick-Ass, 30 Rock) and Blake Lively ( The Sis­ter­hood of the Trav­el­ling Pants). It’s tough to watch — you def­i­nitely wouldn’t have the nextdoor neigh­bours in for it un­less you’ve got a par­tic­u­larly good re­la­tion­ship go­ing there. (And if this is the kind of stuff over which you’re likely to bond with the Jone­ses, maybe you’ve got some life­style is­sues I re­ally don’t want to know about.)

But Hick is worth the ef­fort — and it does have some gen­uinely witty writ­ing. That’s partly be­cause the screen­play was knocked to­gether by An­drea Portes, based on her novel of the same name. I haven’t read the book but I gather the film hews fairly closely to the orig­i­nal text and, given the ter­rific re­cep­tion that has re­ceived since it was pub­lished about five years ago, it’s hard to see where Hick the movie falls down in other re­view­ers’ eyes.

Ba­sic plot, mi­nus spoil­ers: 13-year-old Luli knows she has to get out of the dead-end fu­ture that life with her al­co­holic par­ents in ru­ral Ne­braska looks like pro­vid­ing. One of the film’s ear­li­est set-ups — Luli’s 13th birthday party at a lo­cal bar — pretty much tells it all. Mum and Dad are smashed, un­cle gives her a Smith & Wes­son .45 for a gift, bar­tender has to pro­vide a ride home at the end of the night to stop her leg­less fa­ther from try­ing to drive. Things are never go­ing to look up un­less this teen can start do­ing things for her­self.

A brief di­ver­sion in­volv­ing the gun, a mir­ror and Clint East­wood’s fa­mous ‘‘Make my day’’ lines, and a quick bit of soul-search­ing later, Luli de­cides to set out to see what she can make of her life. Just to make sure the point of it all is un­der­scored, there’s a through­line touch­ing back to cinema clas­sic The Wizard of Oz. One of two key off­siders she meets on her jour­ney, played by the cap­ti­vat­ing Lively, is even called Glenda. (The Good Witch was Glinda — get it?) Glenda is grifter, hooker and mother fig­ure all rolled into one, tak­ing her young hitch-hik­ing charge right un­der her co­caine-pow­dered wing.

This, of course, is the whim­si­cal part, and it serves to re­in­force the bru­tal­ity that makes up the rest of Hick — rape, murder, mind­less vi­o­lence, kid­nap­ping; yet, through it all, there’s Luli’s ap­par­ent re­fusal to give up.

The other key char­ac­ter is hill­billy gimp psy­chopath Eddie (Eddie Red­mayne), the source of much of Luli’s pain and a truly loath­some and pitiable fig­ure.

I ac­cept this all won’t work for ev­ery­one, but if you’ve got a thing for films that take the (yel­low brick) road less trav­elled, it’s worth a crack.

This week

(MA15+) Hop­scotch (102min, $39.95)

(MA15+) Trans­mis­sion (100min, $34.95)

(M) Road­show (151min, $39.95)

(PG) Road­show (120min, $39.95)

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