The Rooster is here to strut its stuff and crow its way into your cinematic hearts! This quirky, genre-bending masterpiece written and directed by Mark Leonard Winter brings a fresh breeze to the world of Australian film, combining elements of dark comedy, psychological drama, and outright absurdity. Prepare to be enthralled, bewildered, and left pondering the deep questions of friendship, family and finding it in the most unexpected of places.
From the very first frame, The Rooster commands your attention, drawing you into a world, set against the backdrop of a sleepy Australian rural town, the film introduces us to an ensemble cast that’s as diverse as it is eccentric. Hugo Weaving takes on the role of the enigmatic Mit, a mysterious curmudgeon found living in the middle of the bush, fishing for food from local campers and, when accepting booze, dispensing cryptic wisdom over rounds on a run-down table tennis board. Phoenix Raei’s portrayal of Dan, a sceptical local cop caught in the middle of Mit’s antics, is a sheer delight to watch. Raei effortlessly conveys the inner conflict of a man torn between duty and the irresistible urge to embrace the absurd after a series of haunting events that lead him to Mit.
The narrative unfurls like a rooster’s morning call – unexpected, occasionally jarring, but always captivating. Weaving masterfully blends deadpan humour with moments of profound introspection, creating a rollercoaster of emotions that keeps you invested till the very end. The film’s pacing is a testament to Winter’s directorial finesse; just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the story takes a U-turn, leaving you scratching your head in the best possible way.
Hugo Weaving deserves a special mention for his role, his commitment to going the full month in his character’s introduction scene, mixed with his impeccable comic timing and chemistry with Raei’s Dan, provide some of the film’s most side-splitting moments. The duo’s dynamic is akin to a bizarro-world buddy cop duo, with feathered fiascos and existential debates replacing the conventional shootouts (although there is one or two) and car chases.
Visually, “The Rooster 2023” is a kaleidoscope of colours, costumes, and camera work. The rural landscape becomes a character in itself, serving as a canvas for the film’s whimsical events to unfold. The dark greens and greys of the wintery Australian bush create the perfect canvas for this story to build upon. The surreal and fantastical elements are complemented by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that weaves seamlessly through the narrative, accentuating the film’s emotional beats.
In a world flooded with cookie-cutter plots and predictable storylines, The Rooster stands tall as a true original. Its ability to blend humour and thought-provoking themes might make you laugh, it might make you scratch your head, and it might even make you ponder the very meaning of existence. But one thing is for certain: you won’t leave the cinema untouched. Even now, days after seeing the film, I’m still recalling certain scenes and events, diving deeper into their meaning and thinking more about it.
The Rooster is a cinematic masterpiece that defies categorisation, with a cast that delivers career-defining performances that are as impressive as they are memorable. Mark Leonard Winter’s directorial debut is a daring, imaginative triumph that challenges norms, tickles funny bones, and leaves an indelible mark on the landscape of modern Australian cinema.
The Rooster is showing as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival
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