Australian cinema appears to have come a long way from the bad old days of cultural chauvinism a la Bazza McKenzie and Barry Humphries. It has been proved that Australians can make a slick, commercially successful “ international” product, both elegant (Picnic at Hanging Rock) and human (Caddie). Now, as if to prove our real maturity, we have a film which purports to have a social conscience - FJ Holden - universally acclaimed as a true and confident account of contemporary working class life. (1) Australian film critics have engaged in an orgy of congratulation based largely on the premise that producer/director Michael Thornhill and writer Terry Larsen have been both (1) brave - in tackling a subject as important yet unwieldy as contemporary western suburbs life, and (2) successful, in realising so well - “ factual” , “ valuefree” , “ realistic” - what Bob Ellis calls the “ swamp” of working class life. A palpable sigh of relief can be heard from critics that at last Australia has produced a film of courage and integrity, at once raw and vital, fearlessly exposing the “miserable lives” of working class Australians.
Recommended CitationBoehringer, K. and Favero, D. Del, Film Review: The Working Class in Paradise - Notes on FJ Holden, Australian Left Review, 1(61), 1977, 27-35.