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The Custodian (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
The Custodian (DVD)
Advantages: Watchable, Anthony LaPaglia and Hugo Weaving are good
Disadvantages: Story fairly mundane
I've recently developed an interest in Australian films - they are sadly much under-estimated, yet from the quality of the actors that make it over to Hollywood, there is obviously a great deal of talent around. This particular film stars Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace - yes, he was born and raised in Australia) and Hugo Weaving (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and The Matrix), and Naomi Watts (born British and raised in Australia) also has a role, albeit a very small one. Despite the strength of the two main characters though, this isn't one of the best examples of Australian film. It is, however, worth a watch if you ever come across it and is certainly at least as good as much of the dross that Hollywood churns out.
Anthony LaPaglia is very good as the James Quinlan - albeit far meaner and moodier than I'm used to seeing him in Without a Trace. The Australian accent seems weird at first - I'm so used to hearing him with a New York accent, which it has to be said he is very good at. It's just a shame he couldn't get to grips with Simon Moon's godawful 'Mockney' accent in Frasier. As Quinlan, he is perhaps too mean and moody at times - he doesn't allow him to let himself go very often and so comes across as cold. I appreciate that is probably what was necessary for the role, but I would have felt a little more sympathy for his character had he shown more emotion. There is an attempt to soften him up with a love interest, but it isn't particularly convincing, because we see so little of him with Jilly.
Hugo Weaving is as good as ever. He really is a nasty piece of work here. Ostensibly a good man and a supportive friend, he really does have two personalities, and can change from a sensible family man into a violent murderer at the flick of a switch. He has a way of baring his teeth that makes him look really evil, but it is also the glint in his eye that makes him look really scary. This role couldn't be further from his role in Priscilla, but it is just as excellent. Barry Otto, who plays the head of internal affairs, is also good. Kelly Dingwall as Reynolds is a weak link though. His character is unrealistic and he just doesn't deliver his lines at all well. It's a shame, because the acting was otherwise of a high level. Naomi Watts appears a couple of times as Reynolds' lover, but does little except to add a bit of eye candy.
The story is not the best I've ever come across. Writer and director John Dingwall had the bare bones of a good story, but unfortunately, he didn't fill in the gaps too well and there are a number of plot-holes that really should have been filled. For a start, it is never really made clear why Quinlan decides to do things in the way that he does. I know he was seriously upset following the split with his wife, but it doesn't really make sense for him to fall in with Church and then double-cross him. Fine, he is planning on blowing the whole ring of corruption, but in the meantime, he is also convicting himself. The whole corruption ring thing doesn't work all that well either - it just doesn't seem all that realistic for so many officers to be involved without anyone else becoming suspicious. Corruption is a very real problem within the police, but I wasn't convinced by it as far as this film went.
The inclusion of Quinlan's relationship with his wife and girlfriend also seem rather wasteful. They were obviously written into the story to attempt to give a bit of meat to Quinlan's character, but the way it is done, it doesn't really work. Looking back over the film, both the wife and Jilly feel like padding and don't really add anything of substance to the film. This isn't the fault of any of the actors - the scenes and script just isn't set up all that well. Dingwall's script is not terrible, but it is a bit lacklustre at times - it feels okay for a TV movie, but not for anything that is supposed to be taken seriously.
On a more positive note, the plot-holes and wasted threads aside, the film isn't a bad one. There is plenty of intrigue and although the film is particularly violent on the whole, there is a very disturbing scene when the wife of the head of internal affairs is found dead - having been strangled and raped. This really did capture my attention just as it was beginning to wane and is very sensitively handled - her husband, played by Barry Otto, who found the body, was really excellent in portraying his grief. There is a classification of 15, probably because of this scene, but on the whole, there isn't much in the film that is going to disturb younger audiences.
There is just one extra with the film - the trailer.
This isn't a bad film and there are some good performances; there just isn't very much that is special or memorable about it either. Anyone who is a particular fan of LaPaglia or Weaving should see it - don't bother if you're a Naomi Watts fan though, blink and you'll miss her. Otherwise, this is a film to watch if you come across it - but I wouldn't recommend you go to any great lengths to get hold of a copy. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com from £2.09.
Running time: 109 minutes
Summary: Worth watching for LaPaglia and Hugo Weaving