Off we go: Ancient Greek mouse Pattie leads a team on a high seas adventure in ‘Argonuts’.
ARGONUTS **1/2 (95 minutes) G
It takes a long while before the adventure kicks in but when it finally does, after about 40 minutes of false starts, this sweet French animated kids film unspools as a fun, featherweight lark.
Set in ancient Greece as the Gods watch from above, the story follows a little mouse called Pattie who, obsessed with the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, goes on a dangerous sea-faring mission to appease Poseidon, god of the ocean.
Most of the action takes place on a volcanic island inhabited by a giant robot controlled by a race of cyclops creatures who trick adventurers in visiting their home so they can chow on them. Delightful.
Parents might struggle with the film’s underlying message – is it about proving yourself or doing what the gods tell you without question? – but the characters are cute (especially the island’s scorpions and the adorable Baby Kraken), the animation slick and the pace swift, once the film gets going. Also known as Pattie et la colère de Poseidon, the film was a big hit at home.
OF AN AGE *1/2 (100 minutes) MA
The two lead performances here are strong but can’t rise above the far-from-compelling, dialogue-driven rambling story of two guys who meet for the first time in frenzied circumstances and begin having feelings for each other. Trouble is, it’s the day before one of them is primed to leave the country.
Set in 1999 Melbourne suburbia, things kick off when dance student Kol (Elias Anton) scurries to retrieve his dance partner Ebony (Hattie Hook), who has woken up the worse for wear at Altona beach after an ill-advised night of ill-advised indulgence.
They’ve got a big dance final that morning so Kol gets Ebony’s brother Adam (Thom Green) to drive him across town to get her. ), Curiously, they’ve never met before. A very irritating story hole, that.
Directed and written by Goran Stolevski (You Won’t Be Alone), the two blokes develop an attraction of sorts as they jabber away, though neither of them make much of a case as to why we are forced to spend so much time with them.
The initial tension about making it to the dance finals quickly evaporates (another irritating story flub), leaving us with a rather drab tale of a nascent romance that neither participant sees much future in.
Ah, such is life, such is love, such is lust. All Kol and Adam have is the moment before it flits away, so should they stop yapping and get down to it? If only we cared.
Matters get even drearier after a 10-year time leap that takes us to Ebony’s wedding day as the two lads reunite. Yawnsies. Given the admirable energy of the players, the film is surprisingly inert.
There is some merit in the film’s stylish cinematography, so kudos to Matthew Chuang and Stolevski for their daring use of extended close-ups, hand-held camerawork and of the square academy format.
Overall, however, it’s a regrettable case of being all revved up with nowhere to go. Nowhere of much interest, anyway.
LINOLEUM * (102 minutes) M
A failing presenter of a science TV show (Jim Gaffigan) tries earning the respect of his peers and of himself by building a rocket from the parts of a missile that has crashed into his back yard. A strong opening in which he meets a man who appears to be a younger, more successful version of himself regrettably devolves into a muddled tract about middle-age malaise. The promising premise is too drawn out with a second act that flails about as the film strains to be split the difference between quirky and meaningful. We tend to grant some license to arthouse films for trying stuff that’s unusual and different from mainstream fare – and bless them all – but this noble attempt simply fails to take off.