Healing role does tragic star justice
GOTHIC super-empath Harmony is Jessica Falkholt’s first and last lead role in a feature film.
So it’s a huge relief to be able to say that it does the late actor justice. And vice versa.
Of course, the promise shown by this brooding sci-fi romance is bittersweet, since its 29-year-old star will never get to capitalise on the success of what should have been her breakthrough role.
The tragic circumstances of Falkholt’s death — after a Boxing Day car crash on NSW’s Princes Highway that also killed her sister and parents — imbues the story with extra poignancy.
But Falkholt’s performance and the filmmakers’ world building is strong enough to ensure that even the potentially jarring fatal accident that takes place in the film doesn’t feel morbid, just sad.
Based on an original idea by writer-director Corey Pearson, Harmony is a YA fantasy in the tradition of Twilight, Divergent or The Mortal Instruments, although Pearson downplays the supernatural element of his storyline.
It’s the first in a planned five-part saga entitled The Five Frequencies, which follows the stories of a bunch of orphans as they develop their special powers in a lastditch bid to save humanity.
Harmony centres on the film’s titular character, a waiflike loner who patrols the city after dark, healing the desperate and homeless when she encounters them in the streets.
Dressed in a tattered hoody, with jet-black straight hair and a long blunt fringe, Harmony is like a teenage, female version of Batman, if he were a healer rather than a vigilante. She has the unique ability to absorb people’s pain, but it comes at a cost — manifesting within her as a viscous black liquid. Water helps wash it away.
This simple, biblical/ baptismal allusion works surprisingly well for a filmmaker with a limited visual effects budget. And pays off in the successful resolution.
Twin Peaks’ Eamon Farren nails Harmony’s violent, streetwise sociopath, Jimmy. Jerome Meyer (Joe Cinque’s Consolation) is engaging, too, as the film’s romantic interest, Mason, the holy fool who “balances” Harmony. However, the role feels slightly underwritten.
Falkholt’s secret weapon is her huge doe eyes — augmented by hair and makeup.
Paula Arundell and Jacqueline McKenzie have supporting roles as, respectively, the midwife who “rescues” baby Harmony from hospital and Mason’s adoptive mother.
Sydney holds its own as a thriving international metropolis. Cinematographer Brendan Gribble uses its fluorescent CBD, moody back alleyways and urban wastelands to powerful effect. Tension and pacing are strong.
In short, Harmony is well pitched towards its target demographic, although the film might be better served by a streaming platform, where its audience will find it more readily.
“He leads with his heart, not his spear”
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Jessica Falkholt in YA fantasy Harmony.