Cinema Veritas

Malcolm

Directed by Nadia Tass

At the USA Copley Place

WHAT HAPPENS when a weird guy with a gift for ingenious gadgetry meets a greedy, uptight bank-robber and his brainy lover? Malcolm, just off the boat from Down Under, tries to answer this very question in low-budget high style.

Malcolm (Colin Friels) is a rather unique individual. His questions about everything from how to get money from the bank to how to behave on a date lead us to believe that he was raised in a cave somewhere between the Australian outback and suburbia.

Enter Frank (Chris Haywood), the gruff voice of experience. Fresh out of prison, he is anxious to concoct a new get-rich-quick scheme. Malcolm needs a broader. Frank needs an innocent, unsuspecting landlord. A match made in heaven.

While Malcolm is busily looking for original ways to feed his cockatoo electronically, Frank's lover, Judith (Linda Davies), moves in. She is a worldly but compassionate woman. What she sees in the crude, abusive Frank is unclear. She is charmed by Malcolm's naivete, and the two become friends.

So far, it is difficult to see where this film is leading, especially because it is devoid of the obvious, manipulative devices used in so many American movies. Don't look for any sappy moments of oversentimentality here, or any jokes to hit you over the head. But the tone is appealing, and the characters are offbeat and well-defined, even if the plot seems a little slow.

Things pick up toward the end. Malcolm's ingenuity combines with Frank's greed and Judith's ideas for an exciting, amusing heist rivaling those of Bonnie and Clyde. The conclusion is fun, largely because it's uncluttered by fancy sets, mood lighting and stupid comedy.

The Aussie's have done it again. First, there was the cute koala bear in the Quantas commercial, then there was Breaker Morant. Then there was "G'day Mate." And now, add Malcolm to the growing list of charming, unique treats imported from Down Under.