Romper Stomper

Okay, here’s the plot bit:

Characters A and B are in love. Character C is involved in some way–either centrally or peripherally–doesn’t matter. Character A overhears part of a conversation between B and C, and a terrible misunderstanding ensues.

This is fine for a movie like Shrek, which is supposed to be light, and is expected to contain standard plot elements. It has no goddamned place whatsoever in a serious film.

Throw this utter predictability in with a generous portion of artless violence, and you’ve got Romper Stomper.

Perhaps my expectations were too high. I was looking forward to a cross between Trainspotting and American History X. Romper barely makes a pale shadow of these films. This was the film that launched Russell Crowe’s career–he won AFI’s Best Actor for his performance. I’d say he died well, but other than that I wasn’t overly impressed. I was never compelled by his character–I never got into his head. I did like the bit where he’s projecting his own desperation onto Gabe, the incest victim with more sense than any of the men in the film, but even that was overdone. This movie obviously made the splash that it did because of shock value–it was the first to bring skinhead culture to a general audience. Its confrontation of racial issues–however overwrought–is admirable.

There are things right with this film. The music is perfect. John Clifford White not only composed a score, he wrote the punk-inspired songs for the film. Jacqueline McKenzie is believable as the slumming rich girl desperate for real affection. The sets are great. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough. In a world where you can watch A Clockwork Orange instead, Romper Stomper is worth a pass.

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