Sunday, February 10, 2013

[DVD] Model Behaviour (2013)

In 2010 I got the chance to review Australian independent filmmaker Nathan Hill's Jasper, which I enjoyed enough to hope that its cliffhanger would have a follow up film. That didn't happen, but that's only because the filmmaker had gone on to fulfill yet another film, this time swapping Private Investigator duties for the Melbourne Police Force's, playing a detective caught in a web of mystery in trying to unearth a serial killer who has been going around killing prominent people in the fashion industry, with methods that are grotesque, and leaving behind vengeful, cryptic clues.

With a story written by the multi-hypenated Hill, who also has directing responsibilities and starring in the leading role as Detective Jordan Rhodes, Model Behaviour doesn't have that tongue-in-cheek fun that Jasper had, preferring to stick to the serious given the subject matter and genre. Together with cinematographer Stewart Marshall, the filmmakers here have opted for a grittier look, and the handheld camera shots that glides throughout most of the scenes to highlight that sense of urgency and race against time to weed out suspects and whittle down possibilities, which seem to close the noose round Jordan's neck as collateral damage seem to mount.

You may think you'd have watched just about every cop thriller out there, but Hill and team managed to spin and weave something a little bit different, keeping things engaging through its central character, who seem to have just about the worst days of his career, from making errors in ethical judgement calls such as sleeping with his prime suspect, model Alexis Clarke (Stacey McMahon), losing his standard issue handgun, being framed for something he did not commit, becoming tabloid fodder, and suspension from duty just when there's some headway in the case. Talk about having a bad day, this one was a long spiral off what the title is, stemming from a moment of impropriety and leaving one exposed, and easily manipulated.

For the seasoned film-goer, you may have guessed just who would have been involved in the killings given the rather small cast ensemble, and Nick Levy's screenplay didn't work too much favours in leaving behind red herrings. Still, it had you guessing on the true motives behind the killings, and kept the non-linear narrative firmly on Jordan Rhodes and possibly the worst period in the character's life. The running time of just under 90 minutes also had Jordan's story-arc involving his family cut short, though it's a shrewd narrative move in knowing just when to cut one's losses when this expansion into Jordan's background didn't seem to go anywhere nor lend much to the plot nor characterization.

Perhaps Model Behaviour benefited from Nathan Hill's charisma in the lead role, where he had demonstrated his acting chops time and again in scenarios his character gets put under. One of my personal favourites involves his interrogation of a suspect, where you know he's skirting around his asking of questions until a fellow cop colleague took over and blew everything wide open, making Jordan guilty as charged. It showed the fallings of man especially when one tries to cover one's tracks, and Nathan Hill portrayed this struggle in this pivotal scene really well.

If you'd think Model Behaviour has its fair share of runway scenes, and the backstage access to plenty of beautiful models, well not quite. It's not a lightweight in treatment and doesn't come with the usual model cliches as one would expect for a film set in the industry, but an investigative drama that deals squarely on the issue on ethics. Model Behaviour showed just what it takes when creative forces get together to work on an independent production, dealing with its constraints to put out a solid film as possible. Recommended!

1 comment:

Dee Ess said...

I laughed so hard. Classic Aussies!

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