This 85-minute visit to the Kerrigans just might put you in a good mood for a week.

THE CASTLE

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


Miramax went to Sundance this year and scooped up The Castle, a small Australian film that might otherwise have died in the pipeline. They paid $6 million for a movie that had been made in eleven days for $500,000. Validating the festival system yet again, it might, with a bit of luck, become this year's Waking Ned Devine. You may well scratch your heads in appreciative puzzlement as you wonder how on earth anyone thought this one up.

The story itself is standard stuff: Behemoth land developer vs. determined homeowner, whose case ends up in the Supreme Court. But the story here is simply the framework on which to hang the daily life of the loony Kerrigan family. The Kerrigans live not only in the treasured house, but also in a state of profound denial.

Darryl Kerrigan knows he is a lucky man. The starry-eyed optimist has a wife, three sons, and a daughter who turn to him for moral support, mentoring, and acknowledgement--all of which he doles out in abundance. Every night at dinner, Darryl reminds the kids of how wonderful their mother is. Sal's home cooking would drive a lesser group to McDonalds, but Daryl and the kids think her meals are fit for royalty. In the eyes of her adoring family, even Sal's grotesque arts and crafts are things of beauty.

Denial is a wonderful state. The children are perfect-including the one in jail for armed robbery. Daughter Tracey has made the family proud: After graduating from hairdressing school, she married a young Kerrigan-like kick boxer. A drifter, a robber, and an unemployed hairdresser-- the fact that they are all marginally functional only endears them to us. Each Kerrigan loves all the others without reservation, and wherever they go, they can't wait to get home.

Dad looks up lovingly at the high tension wires above his house. For him, they are lofty reminders of the genius of man's invention of electricity. The adjacent airport whose jets scream over the house throughout the day is merely "convenient, if we ever go away." Of #3 Highview Crescent, a son says with great pride, "Location, location, location!" This is a family guided by some marvelous warped logic understandable only to themselves-and by the end of the movie, to us too.

I have no idea which, if any, of the Australian cast will turn up in another movie, but every one of them is on key in this wacky film. We will certainly hear from director Rob Sitch and from Tiriel Mora, who paints an indelible portrait of Dennis Denuto, honest lawyer.

Fault can be picked here, there, and everywhere, but why do that when the audience is having such a good time? You really can't afford to miss Darryl's "Greek-style" patio, his holiday home, his souvenir room, and, of course, Sal's home cooking. This 85-minute visit to the Kerrigans just might put you in a good mood for a week.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 499
Studio : Working Dog Films
Rating : R
Running time : 1h25m


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