Hands down Hounds of Love is the best Australian film this year.
The film not only manages to capture the time period that it is set (1987) and location of Perth, Australia, but more importantly it depends was something that seems all too rare these days – attention to character.
The story itself is a fairly simple one centring on the kidnap of Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) by murderous couple Evelyn (Emma Booth) and John (Stephen Curry) but it’s the depth of character that truly makes this film.
An example of this can be seen in Stephen Curry’s performance, which as the domineering and brutal ‘male’ presence on screen that is beautifully underplayed and only brought to to the fore when absolutely necessary.
Added to this is that the character John isn’t just a one note performance as he too is the victim of control from some local ‘thugs’ prizing him of money at any given opportunity and undoing so depriving him of any manhood.
Only from behind closed doors can he feel that he can be King of his castle.
Any sign of change therein and he will soon lay down his law.
The attention though, isn’t owned by Curry. Hounds of Love is all the more powerful because of its female leads.
Ashleigh Cummings displays a lot of heart and strength as she bares her soul as victim Vicki, which is pushed to the nth degree in her fight for survival.
Slowly we see her confidence and strength ebbed away as John and Evelyn chip away at her psyche physically.
Vicky soon realises that if she is to survive it will be down to her wits, but how long can she endure the torment before she will cave?
For me though, I was incredibly impressed by Emma Booth’s portrayal of Evelyn.
Her character hangs on a knifes edge throughout the film as her unhinged and unpredictable nature keeps the audience guessing as to where she will land come the film’s conclusion, which is a testament to how Booth is able to display vulnerability, rage, and confusion to name but a few of the range of emotions that she had to portray to capture the essence of her character.
I was truly moved by all the performances from the leads and for Ben Young’s penmanship got his feature debut in the directors chair.
The level of richness across the board would have some forgiven from believing that Young was a veteran of his craft.
It’s going to be interesting to see how he carves out the rest of his career moving forward. Based on this movie he will go on strength to strength.
I couldn’t recommend Hounds of Love enough and if you’d like to hear more on the matter, check out our podcast interview with producer Melissa Kelly below:
Or alternatively on iTunes here.
- Paul Farrell