COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 39min
STARRING: Michael Dorman, Emily Barclay, Ben Mendelsohn
Mover and shaker: Dorman and Barclay
Tom (Dorman) is a dreamer prone to flashes of fantasy. Most of all, he dreams of owning and driving his own truck up and down the endless ribbon of the Newell Highway. The big rigs cost a bomb, which Tom needs to borrow from a dodgy source (Mendelsohn plays a bloke you wouldn’t want to mess with). But that doesn’t faze him: he is young, his girl (Barclay as Melissa) is pregnant, and the road is a new kingdom to conquer.
Tom and Melissa get married and set up house in a caravan out Bourke way. Everything should be peachy, except it isn’t as Tom comes up against deadlines and debt, and the road he thought would be so freeing ensnares him.
Such is life in the back end of nowhere, the gritty texture of which Dirty Deeds writer-director David Caesar’s idiosyncratic study captures all too well. Watching Tom implode is painful. Yet even as the tone scrolls down through degrees of gloom, there is a doggedly larrikin quality to it that’s uniquely Australian — for better and for worse.