A Dancing Foot and a Praying Knee

(Andrew Sully, Australia, 1995)


Like Ana Kokkinos (Only the Brave [1994]), Andrew Sully is a filmmaker who appears to be working in a tradition popularised by Geoffrey Wright in Romper Stomper (1992) and Metal Skin (1995) – harsh, suburban dramas about characters struggling to escape from the hellish prisons of working class culture.

In fact, Sully’s laboriously titled short A Dancing Foot and a Praying Knee evokes earlier Australian milestones in this mode, like Haydn Keenan’s Going Down (1983) and John Ruane’s Queensland (1976).

Sully is a talented screenwriter, and here he conjures a compelling ensemble of characters who are associated with all manner of odd lifestyles, from fundamentalist religion to petty crime.

Ross Thompson gives the stand-out performance, a welcome counterpoint to David Argue, who raves as usual in a typical low-life part.

An innocent young woman’s rite of passage; the ambiguities of Australian male sexuality; the terrors of the nuclear family; the morality of criminal acts – Sully is evidently still finding his feet as a director here, but all these dramatic issues are skilfully (if somewhat elliptically) condensed into thirty minutes.

© Adrian Martin April 1995

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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