Three Summers

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Three Summers is a film that warms your heart whilst wearing its heart on its sleeve. Written and directed by Ben Elton (Blackadder, The Young Ones, We Will Rock You) and featuring a screed of Australian screen favourites including Magda Szubanski, Rebecca Breeds, Michael Caton, John Waters and Deborah Mailman, as well as the Bondi Hipsters.

The love story and various personal discoveries happen amidst the quips and quirks of a Western Australian Folk Festival called Westival, whose slogans range from “Let’s get Folked up” to “have a folking good night,” all while making a fair few political prods.

Misfits’ Robert Sheehan and Home and Away’s Rebecca Breeds star as the talented love birds with their fiery differences. She’s a boot-stamping, fiddle-playing folk chick; he’s a know-it-all metro muso with a passion for the theremin and side job as a dog washer. He’s fully digital; she doesn’t have an email address (though she does have Tinder).  The three summer seasons of the festival allow their story to play out, meanwhile, several stories of supporting characters also develop. Michael Caton as the old grouchy conservative grandad makes some bold statements about what the “real Australia” is, coming up against Kelton Pell as the leader of an Indigenous dance troupe, and the youngsters in the troupe finding their place.

Parallel to this storyline is a fostered Afghan boy finding himself in his new Australian home, with the help of a few of the other festival teenagers his age, and this culminates in a passionate and revealing scene baring all the horrors of Australia’s hellish detention centres. Leftie laughs a plenty at young folk singer’s new take on ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and pokes at gender normative society, and some wonderful moments with well wined baby boomers who have the same spot every year and couldn’t change a thing.

The film also features John Waters as a boozy musician; and Deborah Mailman as a sympathetic AA counsellor, but my two favourites are Magda Szubanski as Queenie, the conscience and face of Wysteria, and Rake’s Kate Box, the overbearing security guard whose dry comedy sends cackles across the audience nestles in the comfy chairs at Southbank’s Backlot Studios.

I have attended and performed in various folk festivals like this, and some of the scenes were nostalgically accurate, as were the self-discoveries made when one takes themselves off to the bush with minimal mobile reception and drum and ukulele workshops. The soundtrack comprises some wonderful modern Aussie folk hits from Matt Corby, Gotye, Xavier Rudd, Dan Sultan and others, sliding effortlessly into the film and creates what I can only call “good vibes”. The humour is pretty self-deprecating and in some parts close to home. Some could say the laughs are cheap and jokes on the obvious side, I say that makes for an easy-to-watch film that many people can enjoy. Some of the political pokes had the audience shifting uncomfortably, either as they are out-speaking what some could be thinking or because it’s about time these issues are portrayed in the current Australian climate.

Three Summers is a highly enjoyable and memorable film. It’s one I’d take my dad to, and am telling all my friends about. It’s playing at big and small cinemas around Melbourne, so get yourself a popcorn and frozen coke and have a folking good time.

Three Summers 
In cinemas Thursday, 2 November 2017
Watch Trailer

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