Devotees of smokey, sensual thrillers should find IN TOO DEEP, from the first-time Australian filmmaking team of John Tatoulis and Colin South, an acceptable walk on the night side. "Men and women and love and pain--that's what songs are all about." That's the philosophy of Wendy Lyall (Santha Press), a glamorous small-time lounge singer who likes to live...read more
Devotees of smokey, sensual thrillers should find IN TOO DEEP, from the first-time Australian filmmaking team of John Tatoulis and Colin South, an acceptable walk on the night side.
"Men and women and love and pain--that's what songs are all about." That's the philosophy of Wendy Lyall (Santha Press), a glamorous small-time lounge singer who likes to live on the edge. By day Wendy works in a shop, but at night she reigns behind the microphone at Cafe Noir, a local jazz club,
and enjoys a torrid affair with Mack Donnelly (Hugo Race), a vicious petty crook and occasional punk-rock vocalist. Wendy's rebellious ways alarm her middle-class family, but kid sister JoJo (Rebekah Elmaloglou) insists on moving in with her. The budding 15 year-old eavesdrops, fascinated, on the
fervent sex between Wendy and Mack. Meanwhile, Wendy has gained a regular fan at the club, a burly policeman named Miles (John Flaus). His admiration for the songstress borders on obsession, and he too would like to get his hands on Mack--for decidedly less romantic reasons. Ultimately, it's
innocent JoJo who pays the price for her sister's reckless lifestyle.
IN TOO DEEP may succeed in capturing the darkly seductive mien of a film noir thriller, but the slender storyline doesn't amount to much. Confused cutting and elliptical dialogue (Q: "Are you going to tell me what this is all about?" A: "Are you going to ask me?") keeps the underworld subplot in
deep shadow. The film would be little more than a steamy prodigal-daughter parable were it not for an excellent cast. The seriously sexy Santha Press smoulders in and out of the spotlights. Race, an appropriately feral figure, is a rock musician in real life, but having Mack front for a punk
ensemble while Wendy breathes silky melodies makes a rather heavy-handed metaphor. Even Miles takes his turn as a singing detective, publicly harmonizing with Wendy and going into a hipster soliloquy about the vanished jazz scene of yore. It's a weird moment, but it works thanks to John Flaus's
effective portrait of a hard-driving but melancholy cop. Flaus is a movie authority and commentator for Sydney radio who takes occasional roles on the silver screen; in 1991 he also appeared in the Melbourne-filmed low-budget crime drama NIRVANA STREET MURDERS, again playing a relentless lawman.
That says it all for Australia, where even the film reviewers are tough guys. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations, adult situations, nudity.)
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