A fine blend of love and laughter, corruption and seduction.
Writer: Antony J. Bowman
Director: Antony J. Bowman
Producers: Antony J. Bowman/Sue Wilde
Distribution: Ronin Films (Australia)
Cast: John Clayton, Rowena Wallace, Jeanie Drynan, Barry Quin
A good cappuccino has a frothy top but a gutsy coffee beneath: Antony Bowman has made just a film, a contemporary urban comedy (a rarity in Australian film-making) with plenty of wit, lots of action to keep audiences entertained and just enough substance to make it tangible.
Above all, the director has written an intelligent script and elicits excellent performances: this is especially crucial since the film centres on a group of actors, some of whom have to produce performances reflecting stereotypes in their own profession.
John Clayton plays Max, an actor who drives a taxi and attempts stand-up comedy to support himself: around him are two experienced but not always successful actresses, a young newcomer who loves and leaves him, and an egocentric young actor.
Set in Sydney (excitingly photographed by Danny Batterham), the film opens up the actors lives, concentrating on the frustrations rather than the glamour and getting to the heart of their relationships.
An off-beat element of suspense, irony, surreptitious social satire and good story-telling all combine to make a movie about people, not just actors, that everyone should be able to enjoy. It isn't exactly mainstream commercial. It is probably too good for that and given professional marketing, Cappuccino should find responsive audiences in most territories.
- Screen International, Andrew Urban
A Potent Brew
I felt I was really with this new Australian movie right from the start. It has a lightness of touch from writer-director Antony Bowman which you do not find very often in movies made in this country. And Cappuccino manages to be funny, a little touching, and without strain, a little dark-edged too.
Cappuccino is mostley about actors. Max who tells the story, is an out of work actor currently working as a cab driver but yearns to be a stand-up comic. He and his there acting friends are all around 40 or so and having varying degrees of success.
The screenplay focuses on their struggles to get work, their uncertainties about the future - which tend to make every minor chance take on significance - and their changing fortunes, not allowing them to be complacent. The film is about their ups and downs, their tensions, their needs, their egos - and it is about friendship. I like that. It is friendship with survives.
I know that actors will easily relate to Cappuccino. Some of my actor friends have already seen Cappuccino and love it. You may love Cappuccino too.
The personalities of the main characters are well developed. The relationships are compelling and there is a n appealing warmth in the film that I found irresistible.
Anna, so well played by the always terrific Rowena Wallace, is a woman who invites success. She is confident with-out being cocky. Anna is the glamorous one but she is not vain. You feel that you'd like to know her and her friend Maggie, played by Jeanie Drynan. Maggie wafts about and engenders doubt about her future. She is something of a worry. But Maggie is resilient and stays in there.
And there is Larry, played admirably by Barry Quin. He has ups and downs more than the others. He is a major participant in a television soap opera one minute and the next he is out of work. He is good looking, perhaps shallow and vain but nonetheless a likable guy who you hope will find another hit. As for Max, played with punch by John Clayton, he is a battler - down-to-earth, loyal as they can come. He has a tough exterior with a good heart. Add to the company the free-spirit Celia played with vigor by Christina Parker.
Find time for Cappuccino. This has not been a particularly good year for Australian film. Cappuccino does much to redress the balance.
In an uncreative year when Australian films have been either non-existent or disappointing, Cappuccino is a pleasant surprise. It's a relaxed, wry comedy about three aging actors and two tactless younger actors who have no idea that they, too, will end up 40 and perplexed, wondering what happened to their youth and talent ... and laughing about it. For the charm of this film is that while its characters are unsuccessful as either yuppies or bohemians, they have an irrepressible love of life.
The film is narrated by the portly, enthusiastic Max (John Clayton) who tells the story of a summer in the life of his friends, all actors and therefore mostly unemployed. There's Anna (Rowena Wallace) a calm philosophical blonde who has never married, probably because she has been quietly in love with Max for years. Far from responding to this full-bodied woman who sees him more realistically than anybody else. Max handles his mid-life crisis by shacking up with the capricious Celia (Christina Parker), a stage-struck brat young enough to be his daughter.
Anna's best friend is Maggie (Jeanie Drynan), a nervy, intense, urban character who wouldn't be out of place in a Woody Allen movie. The other bohemian in this cappuccino circle - their refuge is an inner-city Italian caf - is Larry (Barry Quin), a craggily handsome soapie star perpetually defending his career to a jealous Anna and Maggie, who tease him about his "sell-out" to daytime television. The circle of friends is threatened when Celia, with a shrewd eye for personal advancement, leaves Max to begin and affair with Larry.
Cappuccino is an intimate, unpretentious, low-budget movie that would probably be more comfortable on television than the big cinema screen but is nevertheless, a delightful piece.
- New Woman Magazine, Anna Maria Dell