As soon as I heard the premise for Galore, I knew I had to see it. Teenagers living in Tuggeranong and Weston Creek during the weeks leading up to the Canberra Bushfires – why, I was a teenager living in Tuggeranong in 2003! Although, I was actually on “we finished Year 12, yaaaay” cruise around the South Pacific during the days of infamous fires, so I didn’t experience the fires the same way most Canberrans did (we came home a week later to ash and silence).
The film’s storyline doesn’t really revolve around the fires as much as I was expecting – the smoke on the horizon was more of a thematic background character, creeping closer as the story unfolds. Instead, the main focus of the story are two best friends, Billie and Laura, who speak unlike any teenagers I’ve ever met (see: Dawson’s Creek) and are weirdly touchy feely – I actually thought it was going to turn in to a lesbian awakening story. Not that there’d be anything wrong with that, it’s more that it just added to my confusion when it was revealed that Billie was in fact sleeping with Laura’s boyfriend, Danny.
And then the love triangle turns in to a love square – Billie’s mother, a lost-cause-loving social worker, brings home one of her charges, Isaac. Isaac is a smart, likeable, Islander lad who’s been in some trouble (thanks to an overbearing family) and is looking for a way out. I found a lot of familiarity with Isaac, he sounded a lot like people I went to school with – throughout the film he’s constantly heard talking about getting out of Canberra and moving to Sydney or somewhere north (like every teenager who’s ever lived in Canberra).
The awesome foursome spend a lot of time riding around the outer suburbs without helmets, swimming in (what we now know is) algae infected water, lying around in the summer sun and giving each other flirtatious looks. About halfway through the film, just as I was starting to wonder where the story was going and why it was taking so long to get there, Billie’s self-destructive nature takes over and she subsequently sets off a chain of events that at first seem to be plot filler but eventually lead to quite an emotional and slightly shocking ending. I cried.
I thought the film was well shot, the beauty and bleakness of the outer suburbs was captured with warm tones for the happy moment and cooler tones for the darker parts. The direction was great, there’s a lot of love and respect for the characters and Canberra. For me, though, the most impressive aspect of the film was the acting – all of the actors were spectacular! The two leading ladies in particular were a joy to watch.
One other thing I really liked about this film is that the teenagers actually looked like teenagers – Danny in particular is lanky and baby faced. At first I was wondering what the two girls saw in him, because I’ve become so accustomed to teenagers looking like they’re thirty… and then I remembered what boys that age actually look like (ie pimply and weird). Isaac also has a rats tail, which I think it the worst, but very much appropriate for his age and social group. The two girls work at the Weston Creek Kingsley’s – which is hilarious and fantastic – and are seen quite a bit in their uniforms.
I felt the film faltered at the beginning, and I did feel it was too “teenagey” in substance, and didn’t match the tone of the film (ie dramatic). It felt like a story line that should be in an Amanda Bynes movie, done to a Lantana mood. It does take a long time for anything to happen – but when it does, you realise that the moments leading up to it, while seemly pointless, had in fact developed interesting characters and sucked you in to make you emotionally attached.
Overall I would recommend Galore. Go in expecting a moody, slow yet beautiful film about hormonal teenagers, and you’ll be happy. Go in expecting Dante’s Inferno, and you will be pretty pissed off. And asleep. You will be asleep.