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Set and filmed in Torquay, new Aussie film Blinder follows the story of Tom (Oliver Ackland) a once-promising football player whose career was cut short by a scandal that affected the entire footy club and close-knit community.

Fast forward a decade and Tom is now the kicking coach for an American Football team in Baltimore, USA. Until he gets a call that his old coach Charlie “Chang” Hyde (Jack Thompson) has died, promptly Tom to travel home and face his past.

Not having time for jetlag Tom promptly launches into busy week: he’s got to make peace with his former teammates and ex-flame Rose, deal with the fallout of the scandal, farewell Chang and win next week’s Grand Final (while getting in a few meat pies along the way).

Sure, it isn’t the most original premise, but my issue with Blinder isn’t the storyline, it’s in the telling. The film continually skips between the past and present as the audience gradually gets up to speed with what happened that fateful night (without revealing too much, it involves drunk footy players and an underage girl.)

The problem is that most of the characters look exactly the same, so it often takes a few seconds before you realise which decade you’re in. On top of this, uneven pacing sees the story veer from poignant social commentary to cheesy melodrama reminiscent of an extended episode of Breakers.

Quibbles aside, the acting is fine. Jack Thompson is convincing as the hard-bitten coach Chang who can spout sporting cliches quicker than you can say Stone the Crows, while Ackland is likeable enough as Tom. And while Blinder doesn’t so must suggest its themes as ram them down your throat (winning=good, mateship=better) it is hard not to like. Plus it’s nice seeing a lot of familiar places from the Surf Coast on the big screen.

Like a lot of AFL footy players, Blinder is at is most entertaining and exciting within the confines of the white line. The best parts of the movie are undoubtedly the football matches. Cinematographer Greg De Marigny gets up close to capture the rough and tumble of an Aussie Rules match in a way not seen before. It’s a pleasure and exciting to watch.

Still worth a look.

Binder opens nationally on Thursday 7 March.

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