- Us 2018
New Zealand 1977
Roger Donaldson for Aardvark Films
directed by Roger Donaldson
starring Sam Neill, Nevan Rowe, Ian Mune, Warren Oates, Ian Watkin, Clyde Scott, Donna Akersten, William Johnson, Don Selwyn, Davina Whitehouse, Melissa Donaldson, Dougal Stevenson, Bernard Kearns, Raf Irving, Tommy Tinirau, Dorothy McKegg, Roger Oakley, Bernard Moody, Laurie Dee, Ron Cameron, Rod Collison, Ken Smith, Richard Moss, Norman Fawsey, Peter Rowell, Chris Parkinson, Bill Juliff, Pat Hoff, Tom Binns, Les Hunt, Shirley Duke, Cass Donaldson
screenplay by Ian Mune, Arthur Baysting, based on the novelSmith's Dream by Christian K. Stead, music by Mathew Brown, David Calder, Murray Grindlay
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With his marriage to Gloria (Nevan Rowe) on the brink of breaking up,
all Smith (Sam Neill) wanted was a little bit of peace and quiet - and
since the country's in turmoil, he decides to spend some time on a lonely
island ... to suddenly be accused of terrorism, arrested and about to be
sentenced to death - when he manages to make a daring escape. Somehow he
ends up at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere where he doesn't only
find a job but also a lover (Donna Akersten), and since there are no
guests pretty much by definition, he seems to finally have found his peace
and quiet ... but enter American troops led by Colonel Willoughby (Warren
Oates) who have come to support the local gouvernment who make the whole
place into a mess, just by staying there. And Smith not only detests them,
he also fears he might be exposed as the runaway "terrorist" he
never was - and thus enter Bullen (Ian Mune), an actual revolutionary who
offers Smith a way out ... if he helps the revolution stage an attack at
the motel and the Americans it hosts. The attack succeeds - but suddenly,
Smith finds himself on the run with Bullen, drawn into the center of a
conflict he planned to sit out ...
Sleeping Dogs is many
things at once, an action movie, a political satire, and a Kafkaesque tale
of absurdity - and it succeeds in all areas, basically because the film is
not only very well-written, it also never tries to hammer a point home but
keeps things moving, is populated by very colourful characters, and Sam
Neill (in his first lead) brings just the right mix of resolution and
vulnerability to the role. And that the film makes perfect use of its
Australian landscapes doesn't hurt one bit either, of course.
been the first movie from New Zealand given general release in the USA
back in the day, the film's a bit of a forgotten classic these days - but
it definitely deserves all the attention it gets. Totally recommended!