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Terrorism comes to Melbourne with a bang in David Pulbrook's highly charged study of conflicted cultures, loss, denial and cowardice. Ulah Lippmann (Julia Blake) is swept up in the aftermath of the Balaclava bombing when she returns home and is violently hustled inside by Sadiq (Underbelly's Firass Dirani), a wounded Palestinian now on the run from police. The irony that he's taken a Jewish woman hostage is not lost on the radical youth, a self-styled 'soldier' for God. “Killing you means nothing to me,” he sneers. Yet Lippmann stands her ground. She's seen all this before.

So starts this AWGIE nominated script by Pulbrook and co-writer Terence Hammond. Handsome production and crisp lensing concentrates emotion in what becomes a chilling two hander as Ulah and Sadiq dance around the thorny issues of invasion, occupation, ethnic cleansing. She moved to Israel in the 1950's, her son joined the military. “I'm a soldier,” says Sadiq. “You're a terrorist,” she curtly responds. As Pulbrook's camera swings around the hopeless hypocrisy of these entangled arguments, the injured man grows weaker and a worried neighbour starts prying.

All of which would make for excellent drama if not for an enormous request to suspend disbelief that is, frankly, impossible. Lippmann's actions on not one but three occasions tug at reality so hard they effectively derail the film, undoing the great work of two fine actors (Blake is magnificent) and Pulbrook's tight, anxiety-inducing direction. But the greatest loss is a worthy conversation about fear, overwhelmed by a head-scratching final scene which forces you to ask the wrong questions about human behaviour. Thus Last Dance becomes little more than wish fulfilment and is much, much poorer for it.

moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks

Last Dance (2012) on IMDb

Julia Blake
Firass Dirani
Alan Hopgood
Danielle Carter

David Pulbrook

David Pulbrook
Terence Hammond


M / 86 minutes

November 1, 2012
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