The Heartbreak Kid

(Michael Jenkins, Australia, 1993)


The Heartbreak Kid is a shallow and quickly forgettable Australian teen movie skimming over the surface of several volatile issues – in particular, multiculturalism and teacher-student relationships.

Claudia Karvan plays Christina, a teacher straight out of training who is thrown into the maelstrom of secondary education in suburbia. As Christina begins to doubt her forthcoming marriage to the strait-laced Dimitri (Steve Bastoni), she is inexorably drawn to the wild young thing in her class, Nick (Alex Dimitriades).

Director Michael Jenkins and writer Richard Barrett soft-peddle everything. Any story about a male teacher getting it off with a female student would seize upon the hot topics of power, authority, abuse, manipulation – take a look at Gross Misconduct (1993). But here, every grey zone of conflict or difficulty in the central relationship is softened beyond belief.

When the woeful ending rolls around, you’ll wonder whether the filmmakers even had the conviction to stick with their rose-coloured theme of romance.

Before that point, The Heartbreak Kid is full of lame jokes and poor, MTV-style sequences that show characters aimlessly frolicking for three minutes while a pop tune fills the soundtrack. (The film would later give rise to an equally bloodless TV series.)

Only the scenes involving Nico Lathouris as Nick’s father have any intensity or truthfulness.

MORE Jenkins: Emerald City

MORE Australian teens: Lex and Rory, The Still Point, Secrets, BMX Bandits, Looking for Alibrandi

© Adrian Martin January 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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