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Disaster Down Under

Love and Other Catastrophes
Party Down: Director Emma-Kate Croghan's cast (from left, Matthew Dyktynski, Alice Garner, Radha Mitchell and Frances O'Connor) works hard to make the audience suffer.

Australia's 'Love and Other Catastrophes' mimics TV's 'Friends' to a fault

By Richard von Busack

EMMA-KATE CROGHAN'S debut film has as its epigraph Alfred Hitchcock's comment "Always make the audience suffer as much as possible." Since this is the work of a young (24) director, it wouldn't be charitable to comment that, in one respect at least, Love and Other Catastrophes is made in the tradition of Hitchcock. Filmed in Melbourne, Australia, Love and Other Catastrophes reinforces the reputation of the TV show Friends as the dominant cultural experience of our time.

Mia (Frances O'Connor) is having a moderately bad day at the university, trying to drop a major before the deadline. She is also having a spat with her girlfriend Danni (Radha Mitchell). Her flatmate, Alice (Alice Garner), is mooning over the campus stud, Michael (Matt Day), not realizing that the slightly geeky Ari (Matthew Dyktynski) would be a better choice for her. The movie demonstrates the theory of relativity. Simultaneously it's 79 minutes long and takes a geological epoch to wrap up its narrative.

At least the scenes in which Croghan lets the camera run over downtown Melbourne make for an interesting travelogue. No doubt Love and Other Catastrophes swam here from Australia on the basis of two things: First, an accurate depiction of university bureaucracy, a trauma most of us ex­college kids have successfully driven out of our memories. It was all training for dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles, anyway. Second, O'Connor's performance has some depth; at times, she's an interestingly unlikable lead and kind of a conniving weasel. The movie doesn't have enough integrity to go with that thought, and Mia turns innocent and sweet at the end, making Love and Other Catastrophes an almost unalloyed waste of time.

Love and Other Catastrophes (R; 79 min.), directed by Emma-Kate Croghan, written by Yael Bergman, Helen Bandis and Croghan, photographed by Justin Brickle and starring Frances O'Connor and Alice Garner.

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From the April 10-16, 1997 issue of Metro

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