Palm Beach

Film, Comedy
3 out of 5 stars
Palm Beach

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

There's trouble in paradise in Rachel Ward's all-star Northern Beaches comedy

Review by Ben Neutze

If you're a real estate agent, add an extra two stars. Rachel Ward’s gentle film about three late-middle age couples coming together for a weekend of wine, catch-ups and nostalgia is the perfect promotion for the Northern Beaches of Sydney, with its lingering shots of crystal clear water and luxuriously appointed homes. The people populating the screen have their problems, but it’s difficult to feel too stressed when surrounded by so much wealth and excess. The beachside villa in question belongs to Frank (Bryan Brown), a wealthy former music manager who has invited two former members of his most successful band (Sam Neill and Richard E Grant) and their spouses (Heather Mitchell and Jacqueline McKenzie) to his home to celebrate his birthday. Frank and his wife Charlotte (Greta Scacchi) are dealing with a crisis that neither will admit, as they struggle to ignite any sparks in their later years. The other two couples have their own mid-life, mid-relationship woes.

With three men and three women coming back together to reminisce by the sea and uncover long dormant secrets – backed by a soundtrack of retro bangers – there’s a touch of Mamma Mia! about the first third of the movie, without the same surety of tone. Ward’s attempts to bring playfulness to these early scenes feel a little halfhearted, and it’s not until those secrets are exploded that things really heat up and this fine ensemble of actors gets to flex some dramatic muscle. There are clichés along the way – a conversation in which one of the men misremembers how he first met his wife feels a little obvious – but there’s a surprising amount of heart in this film that feels like perfect box office fodder for its intended audience.

Details

Release details

Rated:
M
Release date:
Thursday July 25 2019
Duration:
98 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Rachel Ward
Cast:
Bryan Brown
Sam Neill
Richard E Grant

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