Ruben Guthrie (Blu-ray) (2015)
|Category||Comedy / Drama||
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Ruben Guthrie
Featurette-Q&A with Patrick Brammall & Brendan Cowell
|Year Of Production||2015|
|Running Time||93:30 (Case: 92)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Brendan Cowell|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English||Smoking||Yes, Minor smoking|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
††† Just as 1971ís Wake in Fright explored Australiaís alcoholic culture, 2015ís Ruben Guthrie is a contemporary feature film concerned with the national fondness for booze, poignantly examining the ill effects of binge drinking in Aussie culture. Written and directed by Australian actor Brendan Cowell (Last Cab to Darwin, Beneath Hill 60), this is a witty, insightful observation of the human condition, and a relevant coming-of-age dramedy.
††† The titular Ruben Guthrie (Patrick Brammall) is a high-flying Sydney advertising executive with a lavish beachfront residence and a beautiful Czech fiancťe named Zoya (Abbey Lee). But Rubenís predilection for hard partying threatens his wellbeing, with a drunken leap off the roof resulting in a broken arm, but heís blissfully ignorant of his precarious situation. However, Ruben is forced to re-assess his life when Zoya chooses to leave Australia, delivering an ultimatum: If he can give up booze for one year, she will give him another chance. Compelled to admit that heís an addict, Ruben goes cold turkey and signs up for AA, determined to win back his fiancťe. The task is not as easy as he imagines, though - all of his best advertising work was done whilst on drugs, his old mate Damian (Alex Dimitriades) returns to his life wanting to party, and his parents (Robyn Nevin, Jack Thompson) are dedicated wine drinkers trying to convince their son to indulge.
††† Originally a stage play published in 2008, this is a semi-autobiographical tale for Cowell, who wrote the play after a dark time in his life during which he fell victim to alcoholism. Itís a bold story to tell, as it shows just how difficult it is to go cold turkey in Australia, where drinking is considered a vital part of national culture. The easily offended may be repelled by the movieís content, though, as Ruben Guthrie is full of profanity and crude dialogue, and Cowellís views on Australiaís destructive drinking culture are not exactly savoury. To the writer-directorís credit, he does an efficient job of establishing Rubenís character, opening the movie with a hard partying scene reminiscent of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the storytelling is sure-footed for a first-time feature filmmaker. Sarah Blaskoís original music also works really well, and the flick doesnít outstay its welcome at 93 minutes in length. Less successful, however, is the portrayal of Rubenís new love interest Virginia (Harriet Dyer), who does come across as a bit of a clichť in the long run.
††† Ruben Guthrie does wear its theatre origins on its sleeve, with the majority of the picture taking place in low-key locales - houses, bars and AA meetings - but Cowell does take advantage of the cinematic medium, collaborating with cinematographer Simon Harding to create a stylish, European-looking flick, recognising the value of close-ups to effectively capture performances. Since Cowell is an actor himself, he has the good sense to let the actors do their thing without intrusive visual gimmicks. The pictureís aesthetics are undoubtedly bolstered by the gorgeous Sydney scenery, with sweeping shots of the harbour and picturesque views, and the sun rarely shines brightly, making for a dim colour palette that suits the tone of the story. Itís buoyed by an ensemble of fine thespians as well, led by Brammall who immerses himself into the titular role with remarkable conviction, while Thompson and Nevin are enormously believable as Rubenís self-absorbed parents. And as Rubenís beloved Zoya, Abbey Lee (last seen as one of Immortan Joeís wives in Mad Max: Fury Road) makes a positive impression, espousing a Czech accent thatís wholly believable.
††† Much like the underrated Manny Lewis, perhaps Ruben Guthrie might have been more warmly received if it wasnít an Australian flick, as aspects of the production are unique to Aussie culture and may alienate foreign viewers. But the messages and morals of the narrative are universal, and the malleable premise could even be re-jigged for remakes. Even though Cowellís directorial eye may not be perfect, this is a strong theatrical debut for the actor, with worthwhile humour and involving drama. And best of all, itís not preachy or pretentious, though it can be heavy and depressing. In final analysis, Ruben Guthrie is worth checking out.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
† † Ruben Guthrie has not been released anywhere else in the world on Blu-ray. Buy local.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|