Blue Carpet Review – Romper Stomper (2018)

A small minority tucked away in Melbourne has been brought to life through the fantastic Australian production, Romper Stomper. The story isn’t too far from the truth as fascist and anti-fascist groups dotted across Melbourne fight to take control of the city. The timely content is an intricate dance between the two groups, which at times is hard to believe and digest. However as confronting as it is, hopefully it opens a genuine discussion and not encourage the opposite. Romper Stomper is easily one of Australia’s greatest productions to come to the online streaming world showcasing the amazing talent this country has to offer.

Romper Stomper isn’t available to stream on Stan until New Years Day, however Novastream was lucky to get a sneak peak of the first two episodes and the chance to meet the Cast and Crew as they hit the “blue carpet” in style.

Before the screening the audience was treated with an introduction from Jacqueline McKenzie who plays Gabe both in the original movie and the new Stan series. She expressed her excitement for the series explaining it as a dance as the camera moves around telling the stories of each of the characters. McKenzie praised the young performers of the series reminding herself of what it was like filming the original. It was this memory that triggered McKenzie to become emotional and shed a tear as she remembered those who worked on the original film that have sadly passed away. Struggling to talk she encouraged the audience to enjoy and be challenged by it.

The episodes are of a quality you wouldn’t expect from an Australian production. The opening sequence is stylised and sleek resembling that of a James Bond or The Night Manager intro. From the score to the cinematography there is nothing left to just sit unnoticed. Every detail and every emotion is catered for becoming this sensory exploration as the viewer delves into a world of otherwise confronting and for most a contrasting set of views and values.

Romper Stomper stands to challenge what you know about fascism in a very confronting way. Director and Writer Geoffrey Wright who also directed the original film said they were trying to think of the most far-fetched ideas for the series, but they all kept coming true.

“Dragging these characters out of the darkness and more into the light and depicting them in stories makes them less intimidating, less mysterious and something that’s not easy to deal with. But you can begin to formulate a plan to deal with people like this”, said Wright.

While the show revolves around hatred, fear and politics, underlying these obvious and strong themes is love, friendship, loyalty and self-discovery. There is a wonderful though complicated love story between two prominent characters that is very real. So much so you would think the passion between them was as real off screen as it was on screen. There is also a wonderful relationship between Toby Wallace’s character and his younger foster sister. This relationship is also just as complicated and convoluted as the other.

Leading the outstanding performances is Lachy Hulme who you’ll know from the television series Offspring. Hulme plays Blake, a business owner, husband to Zoe and leader of the far-right group Patriot Blue.

“He’s the type of guy that would throw the tennis ball back over the fence. And if you lived next door to him you wouldn’t know what was going on inside his dark cowardly heart,” explains Hulme.

Hulme’s performance is unnervingly natural in his delivery and manages to capture what can only seem the mental state of someone rather unsettled. His grasp of how the world works is mixed and he has managed to hold onto his position of power by keeping certain individuals around him to encourage his behaviour.

“I didn’t try to get inside this guys head space”, Hulme expressed. There’s been a lot of talk how I like to stay in character, I like to stay in character of fun characters. He’s not a fun character”.

His wife is Zoe played by Sophie Lowe, gives one of the most compelling performances of the series. She is shrouded in secrecy and manages to maintain calm and collected despite the questionable behaviour and views of everyone around her. Though it seems her views and beliefs are the same as that of her husband, there seems to be more under the surface.

“It was really confronting for me. I thought it was just another role I can just do it, feel it and drop it at the end of the day. But it didn’t feel like that. It stuck with me a little bit and it took a second to be like ah okay let it go, stop thinking about it too much. You’re being completely horrible but it isn’t you let go come down,” Lowe explains.

Director Geoffrey Wright said researching the characters wasn’t hard which actress Nicole Chamoun who plays Laila agrees with.

“I didn’t have to delve to deep to research the topics of the character. She exists they exist now,” Chamoun said.

Laila’s character is a confident strong willed Muslim who gets caught in a race riot in Melbourne. She manages to handle what must have been a confronting character to play. In one scene she is verbally bullied by a television News Presenter and despite all attempts to be rational and help create an understanding, she is left wide-eyed and speechless.

The original Romper Stomper movie released in 1992 was well received. Not only shooting Russell Crowe into stardom it also gained a strong cult following. Hailed for Director Geoffrey Wright’s exceptional vision both with the script and the final product; the movie managed to come under the spotlight for some other questionable reasons.

The six part Stan series will no doubt stir up similar emotions, though evidently and thankfully not as brutal. Due out on the 1st of January, this is a series that you can’t afford to miss. It will shock and surprise you and help you appreciate what minority groups are subject to.

Article by Jay Cook

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