“Friends and Strangers” is an artistic portrait of the awkward Australians – Washington Square News

James Vaughan’s directorial debut follows the tricks of growing into adulthood. “Friends and Strangers” opens this weekend at NYC Metrograph.

Apart from “Crazy Max: The Road to Rage,” Australian cinema has not been in the world since the peak of Australia’s new wave of the 1970s. In his directorial debut, James Vaughn shows that Land Under Under has a unique voice and something that can be said to be of interest to the rest of the world.

The heroes of Vaughan, Ray (Fergus Wilson) and Alice (Emma Diaz), are two young people trying to find their place in the world. The film begins with what they are talking about on the street. Extensive shots of the initial sequence create a visual pattern of Ray and Alice’s framing in relation to their surroundings. They do not substitute themselves, but rather awkwardly frame their environment.

These cases of displacement coincide with interactions with representatives of the older generation who comment on generational differences. When Ray and Alice go hiking, they set up a tent in the park and ask an elderly man to move. There’s no one left, but he insists they eventually come to the point of interrupting them until they awkwardly analyze their intimacy.

After their weekend trip Ray rides after his friend when his car suddenly breaks down, forcing him to seek help from his mother. “When will you grow up?” She asks. “I’m tempted to just leave you here.”

A less difficult plot, this series of interactions is properly detached, which increases the sense of futility. The lack of directing in the story reflects the directing of the characters. Ironically, we learn that the protagonist is the director himself when he visits a potential client at the end of the film. Ray and the older man walk through his house, a house so luxurious, Ray, in his loose buttons, sticks out. They are interrupted by the music of neighbors, which takes more time than necessary. Like the rest of the film’s awkward moments, this scene reflects the unbalanced reaction of young people as they learn to connect emotionally with others.

The film’s climax comes when Ray accidentally punches a hole in the wall of his potential client’s basement. Ray, after drinking with his client, is in a state of intoxication. His relative inexperience and intoxication make him once again feel the interaction that no longer affects not only his personal life but also his professional life.

Art is hard to achieve when a person feels out of place. Vaughan’s debut came eight years after his short film “You Like It, I Love It” was shown at the Berlinale. It was only after he founded his own production company and created his own space in the art world that he was able to create a feature that touches on the anxieties concerning entering his twenties.

Contact Sebastian Zuffelt at [email protected]

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