Subdivision is a rather disappointing local comedy/drama set in the tranquil town of Hervey Bay on the Queensland coast which is experiencing fast residential growth. Digger Kelly (Gary Sweet) is the local builder who has run the family business for many years. He is a respected part of the tight knit local community, even training the rugby team. But a large property developer from Melbourne is moving into the town intent on creating large residential subdivisions. Digger is an old fashioned builder, stuck in his ways, and his small operation cannot hope to compete. When his son Jack (radio personality and actor Ashley Bradnam, who also co-wrote the script) sets out to create his own business and work with the developer it creates family tensions. Digger and his crew have relied on local property developer Harry (Steve Bisley) for business, but when his company goes bankrupt the town itself is thrown into turmoil. The film deals with themes like family, mateship, loyalty, tradition, and the fragile sense of belonging to a community, and its main characters are blue-collar battlers and larrikins. Subdivision is the first feature written by Bradnam (whose previous effort was the six minute short film Whaleboat), his mother Janice Bradnam and Terry McCann, and is based on their own personal experiences of the building trade during tough financial times. There are some good ideas here, but the script needed tightening up as it is full of meandering subplots that do not always add to the central drama. The script is flabby, lacks a clear structure - it is awkwardly plotted, many of the subplots do not go anywhere, and some of the characters remain sketchy and under-developed. This is yet another example of a promising local production that is rushed into filming before the script has been properly developed and polished. The director is Sue Brooks, who has previously given us Japanese Story and Road To Nihill. As she was brought aboard as a gun to help oversee the film through to completion, she lacks the same personal connection to the story, and consequently Subdivision lacks the gritty edge that Brooks brought to her earlier films. Brooks has assembled a stellar local cast that includes veteran Bruce Spence as the typically ocker Singlet, veteran Steve Bisley, Luke Carroll, and Denise Roberts. Bradnam has a likable personality and is good in his biggest role to date as Jack, who is a rather unlikeable character – self-centred, selfish, and hot headed. Sweet is suitably gruff and makes the most of a fairly thankless role, while Kris McQuade is good as his wife. The film trades on that old fashioned, typically Australian sense of humour for some laughs, and there is plenty of heart to its depiction of a small community in crisis. The film was shot on location in Hervey Bay itself, and John Stokes's widescreen cinematography is superb and adds authenticity to the setting. While local audiences will recognise the characters and much of the down to earth humour here, Subdivision makes for a tough sell to international audiences. Subdivision had potential to be another charmer in a similar vein to The castle, but is ultimately something of a disappointment.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
Based on the change a rapidly growing town faces when southern developers take over.
December 12, 2020