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Review – Palm Beach

Old friends, good wine, good food, a birthday all set on the gorgeous northern Sydney beaches provide an inter-generational comedy that showcases some of Australia’s best local talent in a film that explores love, relationships and family.

The story revolves around Frank (Bryan Brown) an entrepreneur who has flown in three other families for a getaway at his mansion in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Across the four days relationships are tested with Charlotte (Greta Scacchi) recovering from breast cancer attempts a brave face and a few secrets coming to the surface. Rounding out the stellar cast is Sam Neil, Richard E Grant, Jacqueline McKenzie, Heather Mitchell and Matilda Brown.

A lot of the scenes showcase flowing wine, instagrammable food and opulent surroundings, director Rachel Ward treats this perfect and harmonious setting by exploring the characters and their relationships as a dark undertone revealing what truly lies under the surface of a perfect looking exterior. This is also explored through Bonnie Elliot’s superb cinematography showing the gorgeous idyllic Sydney beach with sun and blue sky can also be dark and dangerous.

The film reminded me a lot of the recent Netflix film Wine Country. It balances a lot of comedy and internal conflict and walks a fine balance between the two. There are times when it does lean too heavy either way but it is not enough to cause the film to derail completely.

The performances are sensational from the entire cast, it could easily have been a battle with a cast this talented but every character gets their moment and the inter-generational banter is one of the highlights of the film. Everyone here looks like they are having an absolute blast while filming and this helps them to be relate able delivering another solid Australian film this year.

Palm Beach is a dramedy you can take your parents, friends and grandparents to. Everyone will find something to love in this story and characters. While doing this is also serves as a semi-formal love letter to Australian actors and our love and support of the film industry. Director Rachel Ward gets the most out of each actor in their performance both individually and as an ensemble. Come for the food and wine, stay from the comedy, secrets and drama.

Palm Beach is showing in Australian cinemas now.

Review by Alaisdair Leith

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