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"The Hard Word"

Directed by Scott Roberts.
Written by Scott Roberts. 
Starring Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths and Robert Taylor.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  7/3/03 


Didn’t see a single trailer for this film, and didn’t hear a single thing about it.  My friend Val “Club Kid” Brotski saw it in LA last month and told me “Dammit, Justin, you need to see ‘The Hard Word.’”  Threats to the well-being of the author always seem to work, so when it opened at a local theater here last week, I knew I had to partake in the action.

It is cool, really cool, to see a film totally fresh.  Hadn’t seen any stills, no production photos, no Internet advertising, no reviews from other sources.  Even Val just said that I needed to see it, without telling me a thing about what the film was about.  So, when I rolled in, I had to take it all in and that made the ride that much sweeter.  Guy Pearce stars as a bank robber named Dale, one of three brothers that is in a prison somewhere in Australia.  Released when the film opens, Dale, Shane (Joel Edgerton), and Mal (Damien Richardson) get a gig to heist a couple million for their dirty lawyer Frank (Robert Taylor, who I KNEW I recognized--he was one of the Agents from “The Matrix”!!).  Unfortunately, the threesome are thrown back into the slammer, and they start to make plans for a big heist that could keep them out of the slammer forever.

“The Hard Word” just has a real good, cool vibe.  Part of that comes from the simple fact that you can’t understand 25% of the film’s total dialogue.  Seriously, I had no idea what was being said in certain scenes, and this was well after the first 15 minutes of any British, Irish or Australian film, where you spend your time trying to pick up the dialect and making due with your shortcomings.  Pearce and Richardson have full conversations where not a single word can be understood.  But, that makes it cool.  Also cool is the soundtrack--it’s got this kind of mod/punk/rock thing going that works for caper films or crime films from the 60s, and it works.  It also has two so-out-of-place-you-raise-your-hands-up-in-objection bare breast scenes, and tough violence with plenty of cursing.  In other words, everything that a Hollywood action films needs these days shows up in “The Hard Word”, and dirty 1980s:  it’s good to see you again.

The brothers have to hang out in the correctional facility for a bit too long during the film, and it does drag in a couple of points.  The ending is good, but I wanted it to go a different way; not such a bad thing, but I just thought it could have been resolved differently and achieved better results.  Mostly nibbles, but the film as a whole is some fun stuff.  Just wish I had a translator to understand just what the hell these guys were talking about some of the time...

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09