Local producers and funding bodies really need to place a moratorium on sensitive (they’re always sensitive) coming-of-age stories – the national cliché of Australian cinema. Every prominent national film industry has its popular genres – French comedy, English period drama, Indian musicals – but would-be-lyrical films about teens are a weird anomaly in this country. Despite the odd success, they’re only popular with filmmakers, not cinemagoers, and often mediocre at best and politely dull at worst.
Rhys Graham’s meaninglessly titled directorial debut, the Canberra-set Galore, is almost pure pastiche. Buttery summer photography? Tick. Girl and boyfriend trouble? Of course. Drinking to excess at wild parties? Sigh. Half of this story of teen angst seems to consist of two female best friends (Ashleigh Cummings and Lily Sullivan) semi-whispering to each other – but what are they saying? There seems to be a lesbian subtext, but it’s never clear if this is intentional.
The film throws away its most promising element, a climactic backdrop of the 2003 Canberra bushfire emergency, by failing to build it into the narrative in a sufficiently dramatic way. It does feature a well-staged car crash though. Let’s give it that.