Writer-director John Fraser crafts an ominous film that confuses heavy-handedness with artistry. He uses the exploits of Eugene (Peter Flaherty), a marginalised photographer who is fascinated with disturbing imagery, to explore the gritty underbelly of ‘90s Melbourne.
Crossing Eugene’s path is Josephine (Sarah Timm); a teenage sex-worker being held against her will by a pimp named ‘Daddy’ (Jack Campbell) and his imposing henchman (Andy McPhee). Determined to free Josephine from her life of abuse, Eugene collaborates with sketchy magazine editor Polly (Krista Vendy) to generate awareness about the hideous situation at play.
A pastiche of Taxi Driver (1976), Choir Girl opts for sensationalised storytelling in lieu of well-reasoned perspective. The motives behind each character create for some engaging subject matter but are negated by one-dimensional dialogue which draws out over-the-top performances from a talented cast. The dialogue of which appearing as though Fraser had written the words ‘be unnerving’ in everyone’s script.
However, the biggest grievance had with Choir Girl is with the insensitive manner Fraser goes about depicting abuse. Should we be celebrating a film that uses sexual assault as a means of salvation? The answer is no.
Fraser’s attempt to offer a confronting exploration on broadcast ethicality, told through his characters questionable actions, becomes steamrolled by manufactured eeriness that is intent on pot-stirring.
Image: Choir Girl – photo by Faces By Raphael
Review: Hagan Osborne