Heal­ing role does tragic star jus­tice

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

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”


Jessica Falkholt in YA fan­tasy Har­mony.

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