The Rage in Placid Lake is writer/director Tony McNamara's debut film and it's both a wildly entertaining and heartfelt film. McNamara comes from a theatre background and we hear it in the clever and witty dialogue. While the film is not fast paced, it moves along congenially and never pauses long enough to become bogged down in the sentimentality that smoothes out its rougher edges -- it's a poignant film with a young, brash attitude.
Placid's plan to go normal is, naturally, most upsetting to his freewheeling parents played with wonderful abandon by Miranda Richardson (The Crying Game, The Hours) and Garry McDonald (Moulin Rouge, Rabbit-Proof Fence). (Sylvia and Doug Lake make Bernie and Roz Focker of Meet the Fockers look like amateurs.) When he gets a job working at the Icarus Insurance Company they assume he's either on drugs (not a bad thing necessarily) or he's trying to aggravate them. His best friend Gemma (Rose Byrne from Star Wars: Episode II and Wicker Park), a genius who snacks on crayons, is convinced that this latest permutation of Placid's rebellion is simply a complicated charade that will end with yet another outrageous stunt. The joke is that it isn't a stunt; Placid really thinks that putting on a suit, asking his barber to cut his hair like George W. Bush's, working as a "drone" in a large corporation and hanging out with the people he hates will make him normal, will make him happy and alleviate the rage.
The Rage in Placid Lake has been called the Australian Napoleon Dynamite and it shares a dorky, idiosyncratic sense of humor with that film. But The Rage in Placid Lake is a deeper motion picture; it isn't a long character sketch like Napoleon Dynamite but a contemplative story of character development. McNamara's script does have its faults. Sometimes the preponderance of raunchy humor becomes a bit uncomfortable and several of the more outlandish sequences feel, well, outlandish. But these are trivial quibbles. The acting is fantastic: Ben Lee, of the Oz indie rock band Noise Addict and ex-boyfriend to Claire Danes (who makes a cameo), is perfect as the worldly but weird Placid. His Jim Kerr meets Roddy McDowall look is as expressive as it is charming. Byrne is engaging and lovely, and Christopher Stollery, playing Joel, Placid's ulcerous boss, is brilliant.
A brazen, mischievous look at rebellion, The Rage in Placid Lake indulgently encapsulates, in a fittingly haphazard manner, the trials and tribulations we all face in finding ourselves.
The rage starts with the moped.
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 28th August 2003
Distributed by: Film Movement
Production compaines: MacGowan Films, Rapacious Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Tony McNamara
Screenwriter: Tony McNamara
Starring: Jordan Brooking as Young Placid, Ben Lee as Placid Lake, Rose Byrne as Gemma Taylor, Miranda Richardson as Sylvia Lake, Lucas Fraccaro as Bull - 5 Years, Zan Cross as Lachie - 5 Years, Cruise Moylan as Angus - 5 Years, Garry McDonald as Doug Lake, Eleeza Hooker as Young Gemma, Jesse Spence as Jenny, Simone Cullinan as Sharon, Socratis Otto as Bozo, Toby Schmitz as Bull, Nathaniel Dean as Lachie, Stephen James King as Angus, Yesse Spence as Jenny (as Jesse Spence)