Written and Directed by Sam Kelly
Produced by Vicky Pope
Starring Jake Ryan, John Tui, Chelsie Preson Crayford and a host of talented others
Coming to Embassy 3 on September 10
Reviewed by Paul Brooks
This is a personal look at a powerful film.
Last week a select few were treated to a preview of Savage in the 20-seater lounge at Embassy 3. I was one and these are my impressions.
Sam Kelly is a genius. Not since Schindler's List have I feel so moved by two-dimensional moving images on a screen.
Savage is aptly named. It was that, brutal, bloody, and way too close to reality.
It's the story of Danny, brought up in the 1960s in an unhappy rural home where the father was law, which he enforced with a temper and a fist, whether the transgressor be child or wife. Danny has a go at theft, gets caught and is dragged off to borstal while his father turns his back and his mother struggles to hide her feelings.
Once institutionalised he overcomes his fears, makes friends with his roommate, Moses, and lives a life in which brutality and sexual abuse is common and backed by authority. The answer is for Danny and Moses to escape and look after each other in a world of their own making.
They start a gang — Savages. Moses becomes president and Danny becomes Damage, the sergeant/enforcer.
This film does not glorify or even encourage gangs, but it does show why people join and what they become when they do. This is no episode of House and Garden, but a depiction of squalor in which gang members thrive and feel part of a family.
Their drinking, their "courtship", their ways of confronting and solving problems, all are based on harsh reality, even if the gang itself is fictional.
Danny and Moses go from children to teenagers to adults, and the actors cast for all parts are superb.
Sam Kelly is not one for dialogue in Savage, mainly because it's just not needed. Vocabularies are limited and certain words made a frequent, if monotonous appearance, but the director can convey the most complex method in a shot, a look, a gesture.
No camera angle is wasted and every scene has something to say. The lighting and sound deserve Academy awards and even the silences are verbose.
There is a story, with a beginning, middle and end, but even while the viewer is confronted with vicious slices of life and the story does not seem to be moving along, your eyes are fixed to the screen and the characters playing out their lives.
Every extra is a character and has an important part to play. They are the background, the family, the gang in which our protagonists have made a home and feel comfortable ... mostly.
Things change and Danny and Moses find the future is not what they intended. The ending separates and unites them, but not how you'd imagine.
Savage has to be seen, but it's not for the squeamish. It's coming soon to Embassy 3.