Saturday, April 5, 2008


I'm over the moon to finally have a DVD copy of the great Aussie movie Malcolm.
Filmed all over Melbourne it was released in 1986, 22 years ago but it has lost none of its humour, quirkiness and, yes, it still leaves you with a warm feeling inside and a gentle face ache from smiling and laughing.

Malcolm is shy and unable to connect to people and the world around him unless it involves his great loves of mechanics, trams and gadgets.
Is he autistic/Asperger's?
These days we'd probably label him as such but Asperger's was only just starting to get the once over from the psychiatrists et al in the '80's and "shy" or "socially inept" were the general labels that would have stuck.
Colin Friels captured the character of a person with autism/Asperger's perfectly; I was watching Malcolm, not an actor playing a 2 dimensional description of a person.

The Melbourne scenery is amazing in how quickly the skyline and landmarks have changed in just 2 decades. Playing "spot the location" is fun and trying to explain to the offspring about the alterations is almost constant.
When Malcolm double dates with his neighbour and his 2 boarders Judith and Frank at the local pub you can smell the mingling odours of cigarette smoke, tomato sauce splotched out on top of the meat pies with their own aroma of baked pastry and the spicy vinegar of fish and chips whirling around the clink of the pool table and beer at the bar.
I haven't watched the commentary on the making of the film as yet but I expect it to be revealing and have not a few interesting points.

Apparently many American critics bagged the movie when it was released but then, like today, the subtle comedy doesn't work in the USA as a whole.
And Malcolm is a subtle comedy in many ways; Colin Friels uses body language to convey Malcolm's emotions or reactions in a scene, facial expressions, one liners, music and just the simplicity of it all creates a typical Aussie comedy that doesn't batter the audience with raw emotion or dramatic acting.

Malcolm was both dedicated to and based on scriptwriter, producer and director Nadia Tass' late brother.
This movie was a beautiful and successful testament of her love and respect for her brother, with Colin Friels playing the part perfectly while Lindy Davis and the late, great John Hargreaves were the ideal co-star rogues.


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