FILM REVIEW: Felony

Felony (Matthew Saville, 2013)

Joel Edgerton
Joel Edgerton

Australian cinema is kicking arse this year! GET ON IT PEOPLE! It pains me how unaware most people are that these great local films even exist. Felony seems to be getting slightly more buzz than the average Aussie film, so fingers crossed it finds an audience. In Felony, Detective Malcolm Toohey (Joel Edgerton) drives home drunk after celebrating a drug bust with his colleagues. On the way he clips a kid on a bicycle who ends up in a coma, and calls an ambulance without revealing actual events. Senior detective and colleague, Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson) arrives on the scene with new partner Detective Jim Melic (Jai Courtney), and assists Malcolm in the cover-up of the crime.

Joel Edgerton & Tom Wilkinson
Joel Edgerton & Tom Wilkinson

The shit that the cops in Felony get away with is deplorable, although it’s hard to say how realistic the film is in that respect, and I’d be interested to hear how actual cops respond to this film. Letting each other get away with drink-driving – you’ve gotta be kidding me! To me that was way worse than the ensuing cover-up. The moral ambiguity on show here was fascinating, and the main themes of truth, guilt, ethics, and loyalty provided much food for thought. Beyond those in the force, the moral dilemma was also well expressed through Malcolm’s wife Julie (Melissa “Don’t mention Home & Away” George) who has to weigh up what is right versus what is best for her family.

Joel Edgerton, Melissa George, and some cutie pies
Joel Edgerton, Melissa George, and some cutie pies

Joel Edgerton has written a great screenplay here. This is in addition to co-writing the Aussie film of the year, The Rover. Dude! You are on fire! Similar to The Rover, Felony doesn’t give us too much. So much can be said in just a look. The ending wasn’t clear-cut and I had one question, but I suppose the ambiguity was a good thing. It gave us enough. Just. A highlight of the script was Carl’s police/band analogy – simply excellent. There was some extraneous material here and there but I can see why it was included. There were a few twists and turns that took me by surprise, even though they seemed so inevitable after the fact. They weren’t predictable – they just made sense. Props also go to director Matthew Saville, whose CV mostly consists of (awesome) television – keep up the great work. (For anyone who hasn’t yet watched the brilliant Please Like Me, written by Josh Thomas and directed by Saville, get on it.)

Tom Wilkinson, Jai Courtney, & Joel Edgerton
Tom Wilkinson, Jai Courtney, & Joel Edgerton

Tom Wilkinson is BRITISH?! Actually I did know that, but this film made me forget. Man he was convincing. I could have sworn he was Australian! I was dumbfounded afterwards when I realised that he isn’t. WHAT THE HELL? I’m giving you 5 stars, Tom. Take your freakin bow. Quentin Tarantino, TAKE NOTE. This is how you do an Aussie accent! Joel Edgerton was also very impressive in the lead role, and was well supported by Jai Courtney, Sarah Roberts, and Melissa George.

Wait wait wait... he's not Australian? Holy crappola
Wait wait wait… he’s not Australian? Holy crappola

The talent we have in this country is stupendous and it pains me a little to think that after its limited cinematic release this will probably just end up as a Sunday night movie on ABC where few people notice it. Stop wasting your money on Michael Bay bullshit, and go see something good. Support Aussie film, and say NO to CGI Ninja Turtles.

4 stars

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