Ben Elton’s new film, Three Summers, will have you leaving the cinema with a smile on your face.
It’s a witty and affectionate send-up of his adopted country, Australia, focussing on the quirky characters who gather at folk festivals around the country.
Elton, who made his name as a wicked satirist with British cult TV series Blackadder and the Young Ones, has a genius for nailing the absurdities in everyday life.
It was the Fairbridge Folk Festival at Pinjarra, and the regulars who turn up every year, which inspired him to write Three Summers, and his clever script attracted some of Australia’s best actors to join the cast.
Michael Caton is a grouchy okker grandfather, conservative to the core, who leads a troupe of morris dancers wearing flower-decked straw hats and tinkling bells on their calves.
Magda Szubanski is a delight as the relentlessly cheerful PA announcer.
John Waters is a hard-drinking musician, leader of the popular Warrikins folk/rock band.
Kelton Pell champions Aboriginal rights while keeping his young indigenous dancers firmly in line.
Deborah Mailman is an optimistic AA counsellor, and Kate Box is wonderful as the petty rule-enforcing security guard who insists on the correct wristbands for access to the porta-loos.
Three Summers is woven around an unlikely romance between a boot-stomping, fiddle-playing folk singer (a great performance by Rebecca Breeds, formerly of Home and Away) and an intense techno geek (Robert Sheehan) who plays the electronic theremin.
The film follows the characters over three summer seasons of the fictional Westival folk festival, where the same groups of friends and the same performers return year after year, and yesterday’s sweet-faced teener morphs into today’s pierced-lip gothic.
Of course Elton, who lives in Fremantle and has been a political satirist from way back, can’t resist throwing in favourite causes such as Aboriginal rights, reconciliation and immigration detention centres, but it’s done with characteristic wit and humour.
The sight of Michael Caton doing a graceful rendition of the Aboriginal emu dance is one to remember. With an Aboriginal cultural adviser on the team, Elton made sure that no one would be offended.
Three Summers is full of clever, unforgettable moments. It will be interesting to see if it can capture an international audience in the same way as Strictly Ballroom did 25 years ago.
Three Summers is now showing at Luna Leederville, Cinema Paradiso, Luna On SX, Windsor Cinema, Luna Outdoor and Camelot Outdoor.
Watch the Trailer…