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Shame Review

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When Asta putters into a Western Autralian industrial town on her broken motorbike she doesn't realise what she 's walking into. A hellhole of violence and aggression where gang-rape is covered up by the residents and the police alike. She's a city lawyer though, and she's not gonna let it lie.

★★★★

Ginborak is a claustrophobic hell of a place in the middle of Western Australia. Every man, bar one, is threatening, patronising, ruthless or violent and the one who isn’t any of the above is a wimp. The place is effectively run by the matriarch owner of the local meat factory who, as the only employer for miles around, has created a virtual feudal empire.

The women live in constant fear and harassment and transpires that several have been gang-raped by the local unemployed youths, under the consent and complacent eye of the boys’ parents and the law.

With a nod in the general direction of Shane and The Wild One, into this insular, lawless hole phuts Atsa Cadell (Debora Lee-Furnedd) on her broken Suzuki 750, and it’s clear that the place will never be the same again. She happens in at the local garage, hoping to mend her bike and get on with her holiday as soon as possible. But events take over.

The daughter of the garage owner, Lizzie Curtis (Simone Buchanan), returns home late that night, near collapse and clearly distressed. Asta herself is cornered by some drunken louts and narrowly escapes the same fate. Lizzie’s father (Tony Barry) and grandmother (Margaret Ford) plead for Asta’s help in bringing the rapists to justice, and it just so happens she’s a barrister on a sabbatical. The parable is complete.

The actual event isn’t depicted, unlike The Accused, but the menace and the aggression of the town’s mensfolk, the attitude of the police and the complicity of many of the women present a distressingly realistic picture of the subject.

The economical script (by Michael Brindley and Beverly Blankenship) and Steve Jodrell’s taut direction engenders a mixture of tension and mounting rage as the story unfolds. Debora-Lee Furness is superb as the self-confident city woman-she smacks a lot of men in the face and bricks one into hospital- and her relationship with Lizzie is the focal point of the film.

The town is slowly torn, rather lopsidedly, between the Curtis family, Asta and a handful of local women on one side and everybody else on the other. The blades go ape, the retribution is harrowing, the Town disintegrates.

“All this”, says a baffled barfly as he puts away another tube, “just because a few lads act like nature intended”.

Economical script taut direction and a genuinely disturbing air of menace. This strikes one as a distressingly realistic picture of the subject.