DRAMA; 1hr 29min
STARRING: John Brumpton, Maeve Dermody, Damien Hill, Kerry Armstrong
Counter culture: Hill
The no-frills, Footscray, Melbourne, store of pawnbroker Les Underwood (Brumpton) is a magnet for the lost and found, with everyone coping as best they can. Danny (writer-producer Hill), who works there, is "stable" but plainly vulnerable. Trannie Paige (Daniel Frederiksen) masks a tender heart with a smart mouth. Retiree Harry (Tony Rickards) feels hollow. Desolate mother Jennifer (Armstrong) is searching for her son. Les's feisty girlfriend, Lai (Ngoc Phan), thinks nothing of tossing off a back-room blow job to keep her man sorted. And Les himself, while mild and worldly-wise, is darkness visible when provoked.
It's no strip-mall stroll to juggle a large cast in essentially three locations — the pawnshop, the buzzy street on which two garrulous down-and-outers (Malcolm Kennard and Mark Coles Smith) hold forth, and a neighbouring bookshop where the girl to whom Danny is drawn (Dermody) works. But Hill and director Paul Ireland have their day completely under control: its scene-to-scene flow is seamless and the lived-in performances don't falter. By the time twilight falls, in an atmospheric wash of light and shade, every character has come to matter.