TWO STARS Three rudderless families are trying to raise kids in the 1970's. What could possibly go wrong?
Starring Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue
PERIOD COMEDY #SWINGINGSAFARI
If ever there was a victim of its own exuberance, it’s SWINGING SAFARI, Stephan Elliot’s latest journey into grotesque comedy. The director of PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT is, presumably, mining personal experience to send beachside Australia sky-high. It’s the 1970’s and with fondu parties behind them, three couples come unstuck after a dipping a tentative toe into the waters of a swinger’s party. As viewed through the Super 8 camera of teenage would-be filmmaker, it’s also a coming-of-age tale as the boy charts a way to manhood despite the chaos around him.
Well, that’s it on paper. In reality SWINGING SAFARI is a non-stop assault of the senses as Elliott throws everything he has at the script, the screen, the stars and the soundtrack. He isn’t inclined to give himself the possibility of a post-edit ‘what-if’ by ensuring that there’s not a moment that’s not smothered by colour and movement, most of it shrill, some of it even louder. Some ideas stick - the lad’s rudderless foray into movie making in an awkward moment of the director’s self-deprecation, surely - but most don’t get a chance as more and more come straight in behind to create the cinematic equivalent of the smear made by pizza hurled at the wall. It’s not subtle. And about as appealing.
With Elliott in a free-for-all, his cast of local heavy weights including Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue simply ramp it up to eleven and hope for the best. Which is a shame. As viewed from the nannified future, there is great material to be mined from chaotic childhoods of the seventies: smothering babies in coconut oil and leaving them to fry on the beach, for instance. With parents busy at swinging fondu parties, what could possibly go wrong? Unguarded boxes of chlorine left poolside or the self-immolating fun of fireworks night perhaps…
Less is always more and that’s the certainly the case with SWINGING SAFARI, for under all he ear-piercing, eye-burning, head-ache inducing bombast is a good, fun film. But you have to look long and hard to find it, and there’s no way Elliott or his cast are going to give you a moment’s peace to do that.