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In some respects, ‘Not Suitable for Children’ is too cool for school. The Australian movie is so indie that the Wikipedia article, so far, consists of one not particularly descriptive line. Unsurprisingly, this lack of notoriety has resulted in prospective audiences that are uniformly clad in skinny jeans, flannel shirts, oversized glasses and a mobile fog of “Rockstar” hairspray. In other words, ‘Not Suitable for Children’ could be used as the masthead film of the Hipster Generation.
Indeed, even the basic plot of the movie sounds like a pretentious mishmash of various hyper-realistic pseudocomedies starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, or some other underdeveloped manchild who looks good in a beanie. In this case, the role of intense woolen hat-wearer falls on the lean Ryan Kwanten of “True Blood” fame.
Jonah (no surname) is a single, directionless, twenty-something party animal who lives with his two best friends, Stevie (Sarah Snook) and Gus (Ryan Corr), in the house left to him by his recently deceased mother. Jonah’s primary form of income is derived through hosting massive house-parties fueled by incredible amounts of drugs and alcohol. It is during one of these ragers, that a lump is discovered on Jonah’s testicle. The diagnosis is testicular cancer, and, as an eventual consequence, post-operative sterility.
In view of this prognosis, Jonah sets his mind to conceiving a child before his operation occurs, a few weeks in the future. That’s right, ‘Not Suitable for Children’ is essentially an Australian amalgamation of the American independent comedies, ‘Friends with Kids’ and ’50/50′– favorites amongst the cool kids. And, if the storyline was not enough, the most damning proof of this movie’s Hipsterdom undoubtedly lies in the presence of not one, not two, but three,“The Black Keys” songs featured prominently on the ubertrendy soundtrack.
But regardless of how one might feel about black nail polish and skillfully shaped facial hair, it is impossible not to appreciate how young, fresh, raw, well-made, and yes— cool— ‘Not Suitable for Children’ is. The movie approaches its subject with a wry, fairly unstudied, uniquely Australian wit that’s largely missing from ‘Friends with Kids’ and oozes a charming vivacity that, to a great extent,’50/50′ lacks.
Essentially, ‘Not Suitable for Children’ is stripped of the slick Hollywood self-consciousness that tends to stifle some of the unadulterated honesty that directors of lofi films claim to seek. Comparisons between ‘Not Suitable for Children’ and Diablo Cody’s 2011 ‘Young Adult’ would not go astray.
To be sure, it is amazing that a movie with such a contrived premise— things progress along fairly familiar lines— manages to appear both completely natural and decidedly watchable, despite the odd, unnecessarily abrupt, but nonetheless expected, plot turn. This movie is not trying too hard.
At least part of the credit must go to an incredibly fresh-faced performance by Snook, who is infinitely approachable and breathtakingly vulnerable. Kwanten, too, very capably fulfills his role as the bewildered, blank-faced, Jonah.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the film, is that it is stylistically stunning. Under Peter Templeman’s direction, the streets of Sydney burst with life, and Jonah’s parties are brash and intoxicating. The camera work is frankly beautiful, and manages to provide visual interest without disrupting in the least the narrative flow of the movie itself (the very graphic sex scenes are particularly well-shot. No doubt a labor of love.) A mixture of pushy Winding Refn-like non-diegetic and diegetic music brings everything together. The whole package is neat but powerful.
It’s a bloody cool movie, mate.
Image Courtesy of Not Suitable For Children