It’s to Matthew Saville’s credit that his latest film succeeds in making an underquoting real estate agent sympathetic. Frank Mollard (Anthony LaPaglia) is a morose divorcee whose lack of enthusiasm when it comes to shifting suburban Adelaide houses perturbs his boss (John Clarke, deadpan as ever), while his teenage son (Indiana Crowther), an aspiring actor, craves his approval. Frank is in mourning for his recently deceased mum and is too depressed to be surprised when she apparently phones him from beyond the grave to criticise his lifestyle. The elderly woman who has dialled incorrectly is Sarah (Julia Blake), and once the misunderstanding is cleared up, Frank finds himself drawn into an odd friendship with the retired librarian, whose relationship with her real son (Donal Forde) has its own unresolved issues.
The third feature from writer-director Saville (Noise, Felony) nods to his other career in directing TV, with Frank’s wife Wendy (Justine Clarke) enjoying sudden fame as an actor in a small-screen medical drama. Gary Sweet scrubs up to cameo as himself, and throwaway comedic touches like this inject charm into what would otherwise be a maudlin and meandering drama of grief and midlife crisis. (“Has she had surgery?” Frank wants to know about his receptionist’s lopsided haircut.) LaPaglia is in fine form and the ending will bring a smile to the faces of first homebuyers everywhere, but the rambling script is a renovator’s delight, to put it mildly. Nick Dent