Production company: Lynchpin and Tosh in association with the Australian Film Commission present; tail credit copyrights to Pyodawn Pty Ltd 1st floor, 2-24 Sir John Young Crescent, Woolloomooloo, NSW, 2011; made with assistance from the Special Production Fund of the Australian Film Commission.
Budget: $425,000 (Filmnews, April 1990; Cinema Papers, May 1989); $400,000 (The Canberra Times, 1st August 1990)
Filmed: Principal photography began August 1988, according to Cinema Papers (May 1989 issue). Three week shoot, 15 days. Three weeks rehearsal, seven weeks post-production.
Australian distributor: Valhalla
Theatrical release: the film was given a brief run by the small independent Valhalla chain, opening in Sydney on 19th April 1990. The film later opened at the Belgrave Cameo in Melbourne on 13th September 1990.
Video release: The Home Cinema Group
Running time: 85 mins (Cinema Papers); 88 mins (Stratton's The Avocado Plantation, 91 mins Murray's Australian Film, Filmnews)
VHS time: 1'26"51
Raw Nerve wasn't listed in the Film Victoria report on Australian box office, but this is hardly surprising, as it had only a very belated and limited theatrical release, at first courtesy of independent chain Valhalla, but several years after it was finished. It likely did only very small numbers, and in any case Valhalla was unlikely to have made the figures known.
Additionally, the film didn't travel well internationally.
The film was overlooked at the AFI Awards, to David Stratton's consternation, but director Tony Wellington’s website lists the film as an official selection at the 1989 London Film Festival.
At time of writing, the film hadn’t crossed over the digital divide, but copies circulated amongst collectors, derived from the original domestic VHS release, quality contingent on source used.
As for the film, there’s a reason for its relative obscurity. At the time, David Stratton and other critics liked the result, but looking back the film, it is fatally hamstrung by its theatrical air.
The result feels like a theatre workshop exercise of the kind that NIDA students might put on to master assorted techniques, with each of the three cast allowed an opportunity to explore their emotional hang-ups and their problems with their parents. Naturally there's also much banter about sex, though it's never consummated in the film and never rises much above the level of vibrators and sexy clothing.
This is difficult enough terrain at the best of times, but then the drama is also isolated to a modern rural situated McMansion, and each of the characters are designed to present meaningful slices of society - Billy is the working class boy with a chip on his shoulder, David the middle class boy with a chip on his shoulder, and Michelle the older middle class girl with an adopted-out baby already part of her CV.
It doesn’t help that each of the actors look manifestly too old for their roles - Kelly Dingwall’s character is supposed to be still at school, while Rebecca Rigg’s Michelle (at least 21 at the time) is given a bit more cover by being the older traumatised girl who heads back to school to complete her education.
John Polson was at least 22 at time of filming, and there is no apparent reason for his character to be mates with Dingwall’s Dave.
Doing a three hander and holding interest for feature-film length is always a challenge - ironically Dingwall’s father, John Dingwall, managed it better in his two-hander domestic thriller Phobia - but then comes the even more difficult business of finding a market for the result.
Raw Nerve might have been better as a fifty minute ‘short feature’ of the kind once favoured by the AFC as a way of allowing cast and creative team to strut their stuff.
That length might have prevented some of the stretching of the drama that goes on, especially when John Polson’s Billy starts to roam around with a kitchen carving knife in hand.
It’s hard not to feel that writer/director Tony Wellington sold himself - or the AFC sold him - on the pup of doing a low budget film.
This notion was all the go as the 10BA tax rort began to wind down, and funding bodies were desperate to find alternatives. Wellington and his cast do their best with the limited material to hand, but contrivances litter the script.
Thus Michelle keeps telling David that she wants to leave, but still manages to puff weed, get tipsy on wine, do a costume change into a vamp, give David a flash of what he fancies, and otherwise show a willingness to play the game. And then at the end, having traumatised each other, the three friends leave together, differences patched up as they head off to the pub for a beer, leaving a trashed mansion behind them.
It probably wouldn’t have helped to have shown the parents, or done scenes with them, even had the budget and the schedule allowed it - what could possibly be done with David confronting his mother for having an affair with a developer, which sets David on the path of breaking into the developer’s house? (It turns out it's so that Billy might conveniently trash it for him).
The film now has most interest as an example of what were perceived to be the torments of young Australian people in the late 1980s ...materialism, love, parents, stretch marks and the whole damn thing.
That these teens now come across now as indulged, indulgent, spoiled prats is probably an unintended consequence, which wasn't as noticeable at the time when the film was first released.
(a) Writer/director Tony Wellington:
Tony Wellington has had a diverse variety of careers and activities, including photographer, politician, author, and artist.
He has an eponymous website here which inter alia contained this short CV:
Tony Wellington: photographer, politician, published author, freelance writer, artist, film-maker, lecturer, musician and social commentator.
Tony graduated from Sydney's Macquarie University in 1976 with a BA majoring in Mass Media and Communications. He received the University Prize for his media studies.
He has worked on a freelance basis in the film and television industry, written books and articles, lectured in media, had exhibitions of his paintings around Australia, run folk clubs, recorded a CD of original songs, worked as a photographer, and published a regular political newsletter.
He is a father of three and keen surfer. Living in the hinterland of Queensland's premier holiday destination, Noosa, he gets to surf world-class point breaks and indulge his fascination with the natural environment.
Tony is currently Mayor of Noosa Council...
Follow the link above to the paintings, photographs and publications on Wellington's site.
Wellington's career as a local politician is easily googled. Wellington is well covered by local newspaper the Sunshine Coast Daily - he became mayor of Noosa in late March 2016.
(b) The Movie - the SBS Movie Show:
The SBS Movie Show tried to help the film by running an interview with director Tony Wellington and producer Michael Lynch in episode four of the 1990 series, screened on 11th April 1990 (and available until December 2030 online here).
In the interview, Wellington explained the source of the film:
“It came from a desire of mine to create a low budget movie that didn’t look low budget, fundamentally, so I set out with the actual intention of writing a film that could be made reasonably cheaply, but would be nevertheless effective cinema, so I designed a script based around three characters in one location. We had a three week shoot, which was fifteen days all up, and the only way that we could get it done in that time was if the actors were well-prepared, so I rehearsed them for three weeks beforehand. So it was a three week rehearsal, then a three week shoot. By the time we started shooting, they were all word perfect.”
Producer Michael Lynch, who had previously worked as a casting director, added:
“We found the actors very enthusiastic in the casting process, which Tony had not really gone through before, and which I’d gone through because of my background as a casting director lots of times … we found them very enthusiastic about the script, in that we were dealing with a group of, some of them unknown, seventeen to twenty year olds, some of them you know actors that had done quite a lot of work …I guess we plumped for the three that had the experience to probably help us in making sure that we could do it in the three weeks …"
Wellington: “To a large extent the film is concerned with the way in which anti-social behaviour can be a product of one’s own family background, and so the parents are in fact very important forces in the motivation of all three of our characters in the film … um…however, the way they perceive the parents is not necessarily the way that the audience would perceive the parents if the parents were in the flesh, in the film..."
Lynch: “The AFC came in and gave us the bulk of the budget of the film …and we set to do it in an extraordinarily rapid period of time. I think we had four … five weeks of pre-production, we then shot it in three weeks, and it’s taken (laughing) you know this long to actually now almost get it to the screen.”
Wellington: “The major distributors like to see something that they can rely on that they see as marketable …which generally means a drawcard actor, er a box office star. And of course you can’t make a low budget film with a box office star. Quite often we’d get a positive response from distributors, but they would say, ‘no, I’m sorry we can’t pick it up’ … and that’s even more frustrating, and er I mean this is where obviously independent exhibitors really are important in this country, and it’s terribly important that they be supported by the industry.”
Margaret Pomeranz ended the interview segment by suggesting it was another chance to “go and see an Australian film tonight.”
Much the same set of details were included in a story by Tina Kaufman, Filmnews, April 1990, when she wrote about The Rise and Rise of the Low Budget Feature:
Raw Nerve, a threehander currently screening at the Valhalla, was made on a budget of $425,000.
Everyone on the crew, from producer to clapper-loader, got the same weekly wage, and the film was shot in fifteen days, three five day weeks, with no overtime. The actors did three weeks rehearsal, and the complete post-production process took seven weeks. "I started out to write a script that could be made on a really low budget," explained producer/director/writerTony Wellington.
"I had to keep the cast down and the locations down, and write something that was character and performance based rather than action-based. I'd happily consider doing it again, it's perfectly feasible to make features for under half a million as long as the script reflects the budget."
2. The Cast:
While there are a few other names listed in the tail credits, only a policewoman (Kate Reid, who worked on the music for the film) is seen in wide shot, and the rest of the film is a three hander (the neighbour who turns up to feed the cat is seen only in silhouette, the owner of the mansion, John Weatherby, is only seen in a photo being played by Barry Leane).
John Polson, wiki here, would later go on to work as a director and as the founder of the Tropfest short film festival.
Rebecca Rigg, wiki here, has a scattered filmography, and is celebrated on fan sites as the partner of Australian actor Simon Baker, who went on to television fame in the United States.
Kelly Dingwall, son of writer and director John "Sunday Too Far Away" Dingwall, doesn’t seem to have a wiki listing at time of writing, but he had previously had assorted supporting roles, as in The Year My Voice Broke, and would go on to work in television in the 1990s, including continuing roles in Home and Away and Water Rats.
There are a number of paintings and artworks scattered around the luxury home, allegedly original. One is destroyed for the film, and was clearly created for the shoot and was also used in the poster and publicity for the film.
The director Tony Wellington himself has painted in this style, a sort of mix of pop painting and Jeffrey Smat, as can be seen at his website here. See also Wellington’s more recent paintings with a surrealist edge here.
Another artwork is Russell Drysdale’s 1953 painting Shopping Day. One of the characters wonders how much it might have cost, but in fact the original is in the Art Gallery of NSW’s collection, as can be found here.
Murray's 1995 survey Australian Film perversely dates the film to its 1990 limited theatrical release, but the film was shot in 1988 and carries a copyright notice for that year. This site dates films to their year of production, not the year of sometimes belated theatrical release.
A song performed by Kelly Dingwall appears briefly near the start of the show, and then at greater length towards the end of the film. Lyrics for the song:
I can control my hands my dear
I can control my face
I can put a stop to my legs you know
See me cleverly stand in one place
I can control my lips my dear
I can control my tongue
I can put a stop to idle chat
I can even control my bum
(makes a farting noise with his lips)
(speaking) Well most of the time!
I can control my gluteus maximus
I can control what I say and do
But I can’t control my mind my dear …
… especially when I’m with you …
(slowly) No I can’t control my mind my dear...
… especially when I’m with you …
(piano runs a little more then ends)
The Hippos provide the song which runs over the end credits. Lyrics for this song:
Can’t control the feeling
‘Cause after all I didn’t make myself
I got no one to turn to
I’m tired of being alone
I feel like breaking up somebody’s home
I just want to break it up
I feel like breaking up
I just want to break it up
I want to break it up
I got no one to turn to
I’m tired of being alone
I feel like breaking up somebody’s home
I’ve got no one to turn to
I’m tired of being alone
I feel like breaking up somebody’s home ...
(instrumental then to end of titles)
For more details of the jazz-inflected under score, see this site's pdf of music credits.
The film proceeds as a series of set pieces where each of the characters are given turns to reveal emotional truths about themselves, their situation, and their (troubled) relationship with their parents.
The style is reminiscent of a theatre workshop or or a NIDA staging, and reflects the limited budget and the use of mainly a single set, though the house provides a bedroom, a billiard room, a large living area, an atrium in a stairwell, and large grounds etc.:
Two young people, David (Kelly Dingwall) and Michelle (Rebecca Rigg) watch from a distance as the wealthy owners of a rustic McMansion depart in a taxi …
Then they head over to break into the place, with Michelle giving David a leg-up to the bathroom window. David jokes he only likes her for her body, and she complains he’s heavier than he looks … must be the brains and the balls.
It takes several goes, but then David tells Michelle to look down while he smashes the window.
Michelle is angered and worried by the noise, but David reassures her they’re surrounded by fucking rich bastards who paid vast sums of money to avoid their fucking neighbours.
Eventually they get inside and David evicts the cat.
The pair wander around looking at the interior - it’s like an art gallery, David says, as he complains about being made to watch naked fat women and paintings of Jesus Christ on his European tour last year with his parents.
Michelle wonders how much a Russell Drysdale painting on the wall is worth, saying the owners must be loaded. David reveals the owner runs a big construction company, whereas David’s father is just a site manager.
David sits down at the grand piano and begins to sing a song (which will turn up in full near the end of the movie). Michelle slams the piano shut, warning him about the noise.
She wants to look at the rest of the place and then they can go. They walk up the atrium stairwell, as David explains looking at the house is sort of like stepping into someone else’s fantasy, and Michelle suggestively asks him if he’s big on fantasy.
They arrive at an upstairs billiards room, and Michelle thinks she heard a noise downstairs.
David mocks her and suggests a game, but she pours herself a drink from the bottle, as David notes he once saw her play pool, and she wasn’t real bad … for a girl.
Then Michelle discovers the master bedroom, done out in pink with a circular bed. David flops onto it, saying that it should have a mirror on the ceiling.
Michelle wonders if this is why he invited her - to fill some devious little fantasy. David protests “all I said was feel the mattress.”
“And what are you going to be feeling while I’m feeling the mattress? You want to carry on from where you left off at Margot’s party?”
David apologises, Michelle says she wasn’t really upset, and leans down to give him a kiss, saying she doesn’t want to sleep with him, not yet anyway.
Another noise, and they head back down the stairs, to be startled by Billy (John Polson) jumping out from behind the lounge, howling and wearing a large black African mask.
The coarsely working-class accented Billy explains he’s been following them, and being a pervert wanted to have a sticky beak at what they were up to. He jokes Michelle has a bit of a reputation and he didn’t want David coming home emasculated.
“Very touching, shithead,” says David.
Billy accuses David of a sloppy job with the window, as he heads off to take a look around, and Michelle accuses Billy of being a complete arsehole.
Billy heads off to the fridge for a beer, while Michelle wants David to leave - “it’s getting very crowded around here all of a sudden.”
David says he wants to find some money first, and they decide to look upstairs before leaving.
Meanwhile, Billy is in the kitchen, and as he looks for a bottle opener, he finds an old coffee can stuffed full of cash.
Billy pockets the money and opens the beer.
Meanwhile, David is in the study, while Michelle explores the bedroom.
Billy arrives with some high brow booze for David, as he goes through some papers he found in the study desk. Billy asks where the sheila is, and David says the bedroom.
“Oh yeah … slippin’ into something more comfortable, eh”, jokes Billy.
“Not likely, thanks to you,” says David.
Billy: “Sorry mate, did I interrupt somethin’? Was you about to part the pink curtains eh?”
David: “Let’s just say I was leading up to it…”
Billy: “Er Christ, sorry. Hey … maybe we could, you know, go harvies, eh? What do you say? Would she go for both? Nice lookin’ arse …I tell you what, seeing as how I’m special mate (whispering over the desk) … I don’t mind going slops …”
David: “Jesus, you’re coarse …”
Billy asks David who owns the shebang … some fucking businessman … as David explains the owner is the manager of a company Morgan Constructions …
Billy realises David broke into his old man’s boss’s place …
He calls David crazy, but David says he knows the man was going overseas for a couple of weeks, as Billy notices all the horse memorabilia … “Owns a few nags, does he?” “Yeah, he’s got a stable.”
Billy tosses David an ornament - which he drops, as he did his screwdriver earlier - and Billy jokes he’s going to have to work on that.
Billy heads off to the bedroom and apologises to Michelle for interrupting things.
Michelle wonders why he’s always hanging around David.
Billy: "Sure we do a lot of stuff together, we get on. He’s a bit sort of wet sometimes but he’s pretty smart. We were mates long before you arrived at the old wooden stool.”
Michelle notes Billy’s a couple of years older. Billy retorts she’s older too.
Michelle says she just missed a year at school because she was travelling.
Billy says he’s going to do some travelling - all the airline staff get cheap tickets - and suggests getting her a ticket to New Zealand for the weekend.
Michelle says no, and Billy jokes she should call him William.
David arrives and Michelle shows him a statue she found wrapped in the wardrobe. Billy calls it a bit suss, a bit limp-wristed, and Michelle accuses him of poofter bashing.
Michelle hasn’t found any money and thinks they should go. David asks what’s the rush, and he and Billy head off for a game of pool.
In the billiard room, Billy jokes they could do with more shielas. Michelle is a bit of a dog. “She’s good-looking enough but I bet she’s a right prick-teaser. You’ll get inside on the top and outside on the bottom and that’ll be it.”
David tells him to lay off her, and Billy jokes he’d lay her but he doesn’t know about laying off her. “She’s too up herself”, noting she ain’t exactly rich. “Delusions of grandeur mate.”
Billy recalls screwing a woman in the back seat of the “old northern star” (car), not exactly comfortable but she was a woman with the most gorgeous orbs and nipples that are really big and fucking dark.
“Anything over a mouthful is wasted,” they chant together and laugh.
Michelle arrives on the stairs to announce she’s going.
David invites her to a game, but she turns and walks down, saying she’s going to go.
Michelle walks outside, and David follows. Michelle says she doesn’t feel right about being there, but David says the people are rich and can afford it all, the least they can do is share it for a bit.
“David, I don’t think you’ve given them any real choice in the matter.”
“Choice? They don’t deserve it.”
He wonders if she’s afraid, or if it’s Billy …
David apologises for leaving her out of it, and she says she doesn’t like Billy much.
David says he’s just got a big mouth and she shouldn’t take him seriously. He doesn’t really mean it.
“David, I hate to tell you this, but your folks are bloody well off too, you know… I mean all this talk about these people here being rich… fuck, you’re rich.”
Not on this scale, retorts David, telling her to stop changing the subject. Billy’ll be okay, he promises …
David tells her to treat it like a game, to see what else she can discover.
Michelle’s uncertain, but David asks what else she can do - go home and not talk to her mother? Not much fun.
Michelle relents and says she’ll stay for a little while.
Meanwhile, Billy has hopped into the spa, where he’s enjoying a cigar and a beer. He invites the others in - “It’s like fifty sheilas licking you all over.”
A sour Michelle snarks that it’s an experience she’s sure Billy’s real familiar with, as she leaves.
“A bloke can dream, can’t he?,” shouts Billy after her.
David follows Michelle and finds her languishing. He takes her into the master bedroom … and donning a jacket, then begins to play act out the life of the owner of the mansion, John Weatherby, and the way that winning became everything, a champion money maker, just like his old man …
The next stage in David's story-telling is John at a la de dah private school, as David invites Michelle to imagine the scene and then when she guesses John falls in love, David wonders if she’s seen the show before. Michelle jokes that the story has a familiar ring to it.
David goes on to talk about sex down below the local library and John’s grades suddenly plummeting, as the only thing on his mind now is pure, unadulterated lust … adultery … flesh is all he can think about it.
John gets into university, but now he settles for a degree in building. All he’s interested is in money, enough money to ease the pain and the torment … money to buy happiness, money to buy sex …
Billy interrupts, turning up in a bathrobe to assure Michelle he’s got something to show her that will blow her mind.
Billy flashes open the ‘robe - you’ve seen the rest, now see the best - to reveal he’s wearing shirt and jeans …
Billy laughs at the joke, asks what’s cooking and whether they’ve discovered anything interesting.
Billy begins looking in the bedside tables, and discovers a wad of marijuana in the top drawer.
David looks at the other bedside table, and they discover sexy clothing, as Billy jokes he wouldn’t mind meeting the lady of the house, sticking his tongue through a skimpy thong.
Billy discovers a vibrator, and tosses it to Michelle, who tells David it’s time to go. But when David tells Billy to lay off her, Michelle snaps at him that she can look after herself.
Billy says to prove there’s no hard feelings or nuthin’, he offers to share a number with them.
Michelle: “Yeah, haven’t had any dope in yonks.”
Billy and Michelle get stoned, as a kookaburra sounds in the distance.
Some shit hey, sighs Billy, as Michelle sucks in a hit and says it’d be great to have this much money, wouldn’t have to take shit from anyone. She wonders if they had to work hard to get all this.
Billy: “Not as hard as some bastard who never got nowhere.”
David: “You make even less sense when you get stoned.”
Billy: “Well at least I get stoned brain box … unlike some pseudo-intellectual fuckin’ smartarses who just pretend to get ripped.”
David: “You also get aggro.”
Michelle (spraying on some perfume): “Are you guys always so friendly towards each other?”
Billy: “… what are mates for if you can’t do a bit of ribbin’?”
Michelle: “I give up Billy, what are mates for?”
Michelle accuses Billy of giving everyone a hard time, but David says he doesn’t give his dad a hard time.
Billy shifts the conversation to talk about Dave’s “old writing pad”, who is dead boring.
David admits he’s boring, telling Billy to to piss off, and not start, saying at least his dad cares.
Billy says he cares about playing golf and pruning roses and Billy never setting foot in his swanky house. The bastard ... (laughing as Michelle accidentally squirts perfume in her face.)
David: “At least he doesn’t come home and beat the shit out of me.”
Billy (hurt): “Mate, your whole fucking family is just too bloody wholesome, ain’t it? Too good for this friggin’ world! It must be great to be so bloody perfect, huh.”
David: “I never said we were perfect.”
Michelle: “Come on you guys, go easy. I mean at least you guys have fathers around you to argue about …”
Michelle asks what else Billy found in the fridge, and he says munchies.
His other favourite “f” word - food. His two favourite pastimes, as he mimes sticking a finger through the hole he’s made with his other hand.
“Feeding my face … and …f … (moving his finger in and out …) … fff flying …”
Billy and Michelle laugh as Michelle jokes “fly me to the food” and Billy flies off to check out the in-flight catering, urging “grumpy guts” David to follow.
In the kitchen, the trio have prepared a feast on the dining table, as Billy talks about the owner and imagines he can’t get it up any more.
Now it's Billy's turn to playact Weatherby's life.
Work’s tiring, pushing other people around all day. He’s as limp as a dish rag with his pretty young wife, but during the day he’s on a winner, busy kicking old people out of houses so he can build old people’s homes and stick rich old fuckers in them. He’s having a whale of a time.
Billy acts out what it’s like when he comes home, with his young wife pushing the postman out the back.
Billy does dialogue about sacking three blokes for not shining their shoes, and so on, then asks the wife about her day and whether she got the Jag or the piano tuned, the pool cleaned, the tennis court washed.
Billy mocks the absent owner slapping his wife and demanding a drink, what with him giving the young wife the best vibrator that money can buy, and so on …
The routine carries on with talk of Weatherby sending over a parcel with rubber dress and handcuffs, and ends when a sullen David stands up and says he’s going upstairs.
Billy moans that he must have offended him, he’s so sensitive, and Michelle laughs that he’s so crass.
Billy: “Crass, me? Hah, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”
Michelle says it must be great to be out of school and have a job, but Billy says it’s still like school … as the pair both bemoan the point of reading Shakespeare …
Michelle says she was going to leave school, but her mother wouldn’t let her. Now she may as well get her HSC and work it out from there.
Billy reckons she’d make a great check-out chick.
Michelle laughs and spills her wine.
Up in the study, David begins breaking open a locked desk drawer, while down below Billy is entertaining Michelle with a yarn … as he suddenly hears a voice outside calling for the puss, and they both see a shadow on the wall (Sylvia Coleman playing the unseen neighbour).
David returns to see the shadow, as it moves away.
Billy jokes that David’s getting a bit twitchy in his old age, David says he’s getting a bit pissed in his …
Michelle tells David they’re old enough to look after themselves …
David: “Yeah maybe, perhaps when I get to your old age, I might be able to write myself off too …”
Michelle: “Well maybe when you get to our age, you’ll come down off your high bloody horse.”
David heads out into the garage, to see a swanky red car … as inside Billy puts his hands above his head and plays a guessing game. Tutankhamun, guesses Michelle - “who’s hymen?” jokes Billy.
An obelisk, guesses Michelle, as Billy reveals he’s a carton of milk …
In the garage, David finds a cupboard full of red label Scotch. Fuck me, he says, as inside Billy is playing country music loudly and tossing CDs around the lounge room.
David turns the sound down, and then heads back up to the study with a crow bar, telling Billy about the Scotch and saying old man John Weatherby must really put it away …he’s a bloody alcoholic.
Billy says he can identify with that, but it’s probably his wife that’s a soak, to put up with him and his boring music.
David: “Aren’t women allowed to like music?”
David: “How do you know it’s his music?”
Billy: “Fuck, you’re in a shitty mood today, aren’t ya? Are you pissed off ‘cause I nicked your sheila?”
David: “What do you mean, nicked me sheila? Don’t talk bullshit.”
Billy: “Well you sure as hell ain’t gonna get into her pants, the mood you’re in …”
David: “You know, if your life weren’t so dull and boring, you wouldn’t have to go around sticking your fucking nose into other people’s business.”
Billy: “Oh and your life’s just so fucking great that I just can’t help but get real excited by it …is that it, eh? Is this how you see yourself? (gesturing around the study) Sitting behind some big fat desk, sitting on a big fat wallet, with a big fat belly to match huh… pushing bits of fuckin’ paper around …makin’ big decisions, the apple of your old man’s eye eh… ”
The argument’s interrupted by Michelle arriving, dressed as a vamp in evening gown.
She slumps into the couch, play acting the owner's wife, as she wonders if her hubbie would appreciate her entertaining two spunky lads in his study like this …he’s a very important man, who gets very angry, as Michelle runs her high heel over Billy’s thigh.
Michelle talks of knowing her hubbie as only a wife can, as she clutches at Billy, then goes over to caress David, talking of her hubbie being unfaithful, boys being boys, and their cocks and their brains are all that…
Michelle looks around, saying she hasn’t done badly… she has all this, and all she has to do is wear some silly undies occasionally. He doesn’t hit her too hard, not as hard as her dad used to … and of course there’s plenty of booze and dope around so she can forget all about him when he’s not there (as she runs her foot over David’s arm). Then:
“The funny thing is, I really did want to do something with my life. I was going to be um, a graphic artist… (as she lights a cigarette and stumbles across to Billy) … but John, John, wouldn’t dream of letting his wife work.”
Michelle goes on to talk about having children, a few mistakes, a few abortions, then asks if that’s a crow bar in David’s lap, and as she runs her hand down to his groin, asks if he’s just pleased to see her …
David returns to opening the drawer with a crow bar, and produces a plastic bag of hash from a petty change box.
Billy looks at a newspaper clipping, chiding David’s old man for working for a nice crowd - the Financial Review story is headed Morgan Constructions in Shonky Land Deal Probe…
Michelle is staggered to realise that David’s dad works for this mob. “So what else aren’t you telling me, huh? What other little secrets are you guys keeping?… David what the fuck are you up to? Did we come here just so you can dig up some dirt on your old man’s boss, is that it?”
Michelle: “Well what did he do to deserve all this special attention? Did your dad get the sack or something?”
David: “Nope, the guy’s just a bastard, that’s all.”
Michelle: “Oh right, is this your opinion, or your fathers?”
Billy produces a photo of owner John Weatherby (Barry Leane), joking he might be a fag. Michelle calls Billy obsessed, and David says he’s not a fag, he’s a skirt chaser.
Michelle accuses him of knowing a lot more than he’s letting on.
Billy wants to know what the beef is, and then Billy bungs on a Hollywood accent, gangster style, telling David to spill the beans.
Billy keeps up the game, and Michelle joins in, saying something doesn’t jell and asking Billy if he bought the lead pipe. Billy says he likes to work with his hands, and is all for bashing it out of him, but Michelle says she wants a go getting it out of him.
Michelle begins to hug David’s head, saying he can trust her, she’s not like the other girls. She’s his friend, he can trust her …
She wants to know what the nasty man did to him … asking if his daddy was involved in ripping people off.
Michelle steps into prosecutor mode, discussing all the evidence they know … concluding by asking why David’s old man can’t fight his own bloody battles. “Are you daddy’s boy through and through?”
David shouts at her to fuck off, and when David tries to leave the study, Billy stops him, saying he’s not leaving until he fucking tells them what they’re doing there.
Billy throws David to the ground, ranting about the way David is always pissing in his old man’s pocket, and kicking at David as he’s lying prone on the study rug.
Michelle bends down to console David, as Billy tells her to fucking leave him.
A teary David sits up and confesses to Michelle that he was at his parents’ pre-Christmas party.
Weatherby was there talking big like it was a party for him, and he was chatting up the women, who were giggling and fooling about. His wife was there, and she just ignored him the whole time. At about twelve o’clock, David went to have a leak in the upstairs bathroom. There was no light on. He opened the door, and discovered his mother with Weatherby …”going for it.”
He sobs as Michelle asks what he did. David says he just went back to his room. His mother came in a minute later saying it was the booze and how sorry she was, and not to tell dad and shit.
Billy: “So your old lady has a fling and you get to find out they’re human after all.”
Michelle: “Fuck off Billy.”
Billy: “Oh come on, it’s about time the kid grew up.”
Michelle: “Jesus Billy, not everyone leads the same life as you, you know. Not everyone is so fucking pissed off with everything.”
Billy: “Great, but you can be blind only so long, can’t ya? And when the truth hits, it hits real fuckin’ hard, don’t it eh? (slamming his fist into his palm) Don’t the truth hurt, Dave, huh?”
David: “Yeah Billy, okay, I know my parents are human. I’ve always known it, but there’s a big difference between my parents and yours, and you know it. ‘Cause mine are human, like you said, but what you have to come to terms with is that yours are fuckin’ sub-human!!”
That cuts Billy deep, though he says he can take it. He’s not going to fall about blubbering all over the floor like some fuckin’ sheila:
“Sure, my parents are sub-human. I’m sub-human. We’re a household of fucking gorillas. And I’m just so jealous of both of youse …I mean, here yez are, both with this great fucking … human …fuckin’ families …and look what it’s done for you, eh? You’re both gunna be real pillars of society …so now that you have found out how much yez have in common, you can go off and get fuckin’ married!!! Have a bunch of fuckin’ rug rats!!!! Mortgage yourself to the eyeballs …and know you’ve made it!!! You’ve become just like your fuckin’ parents!! Well good for you, only thing is, I don’t wanna be like my parents!! And I sure as fuckin’ hell don’t wanna be like yours … so I hope the two of yez will be very fuckin’ happy together!!!”
Billy ends his rant by stepping out of the study and slamming the door shut.
Michelle asks if a nerve has been hit, and David says yeah, as he thanks her … for just y’know …
Michelle says they’re all sitting on stuff. She was seeing a shrink for awhile, which didn’t help, but it made her mother feel safer.
Michelle asks David what he’s going to do about his mum, and he says it was a bit crazy to come to the house, but he’s glad she knows.
They hear noises off. Oh shit, says David.
Billy is using cue and snooker balls to smash glasses on the billiard table.
David and Michelle arrive, and Billy keeps on …
David says they’ve come to make peace, but Billy says gorillas don’t mix with humans.
Michelle tries to joke that gorillas suffer from bad press and are really quite gentle.
Not when they’re pissed off, Billy retorts.
David apologises for what he said, but Billy said he didn’t tell him nothing new. It’s probably better that you humans stick to your own kind.
Billy calls Michelle a fucking prick teaser, saying she thinks of Billy as a snot rag she can wipe her arse with …
He mocks her father having been on TV, which made her fuckin’ cherry too special to be picked by mere mortals.
He invites her over to meet the ape family sometime to watch them eat their peas and chops. “It’d be a real education for ya; ya’d laugh about it all the way home.”
Michelle says she’s going to get changed and go.
David: “Billy the mountain, what’s got into ya?”
Billy: “True colours, fuck knuckle”, as he smashes another glass and tells David to piss off.
David heads down to catch Michelle getting undressed. He asks her not to cover up her breasts, as she says “there, you see, they’re called stretch marks David. It happens when you have babies. Some women just get ‘em worse than others ...”
David asks when and Michelle explains the baby was adopted, she never really saw her and she doesn’t know where she is now.
She wasn’t travelling, it was all very hush hush, couldn’t let the papers find out, imagine what they’d do to daddy if they found his under-age daughter up the duff.
Michelle thinks about her baby every now and then, tries to imagine what she looks like.
She sees girls on the street, she’s always looking for her, and now he knows…
David asks her why not an abortion, and Michelle says if she’d had the sense … but when the second period didn’t arrive, she just panicked …she froze up …
By the time she managed to get her act together to tell her mother, it was too late … but them’s the breaks “So here I am, the young schoolgirl with the old body.”
David says he doesn’t think she’s got an old body.
Michelle (tearing up): “My tits are starting to sag …my stomach’s sagging! My body looks like a fucking road map! I have to wear a one-piece swimming costume all the fucking time, so no one will see …(sobbing) … my God!!”
David comes up to console her, saying he really thinks she looks okay …
Michelle: “So what you have here is one very bruised and battered cherry.”
David cups her face in his hands: “Would a mature bruised cherry consider associating with an unripe banana?”
Michelle smiles, as they hear more noises off. Michelle urges they get out of there, as David says Billy will have the police there soon …
They walk down the stairs to the living area.
Billy is trashing the joint. Paintings have been slashed, and the floor is a rubbish pit.
Holy shit, says David, as Michelle wonders if they should try and do something to stop him.
Michelle rescues a painting she liked from the floor.
David says they should do something, but Michelle says they should just go.
Billy says he thought they were leaving some time ago. Billy wonders if they’ve been doing it upstairs, then says David will get to to it one day, just not with her.
Billy flourishes a large kitchen knife.
David says they need to go, somebody’s bound to have heard. Billy says they haven’t done upstairs yet.
Billy says it’s David’s fucking battle, he wanted to get the fuckin’ prick and here he is walking fuckin’ out on him …
David says he wants Billy to come with him, but Billy calls bullshit, as he starts waving around the kitchen knife in David’s direction, as he talks about the prick having the right idea … go for broke, screw everyone, look after number one, fight the way to the top of the fuckin’ heap and stay there.
Billy shouts about being a fuckin’ airline mechanic … not very fuckin’ likely he’s going to make it to the top of the heap.
Billy: “‘Cause I don’t have what youse two have had, have I? And youse don’t even know how fuckin’ lucky youse are, that’s what really shits me.” (flashing the kitchen knife at Michelle).
David: “You can be whatever you want to be Billy.”
Billy: “Don’t talk that bullshit to me, alright? Don’t talk that bullshit! That’s crap, it’s just words …”
David asks what he wants, and Billy shouts how the fuck should he know. He just doesn’t want to return filthy at night, or look after his parents forever.
David tells him to leave his parents, but Billy explains his dad would just blow all his money on the nags, telling David not to tell him how to run his fuckin’ life.
Billy says he thought David really had his shit together … he was smart, and he seemed to know what he wanted, it amazed him …
David: “You know what? I thought you had something too … you know … you were wild and crazy, like I could never be …sometimes … sometimes I used to feel really boring next to you …ya had this energy, I really admired you … true ...”
Billy tosses away the knife, and sobs into the wall … as he says he just fucking hates his parents, but he can’t just fuckin’ leave ‘em.
David asks why, what’s to stop him just going? Billy says he doesn’t know.
Silence, then a teary Michelle:
“I had this dream once …the perfect future …I knew what I was gunna be …I was gunna be an artist, gunna be in a big studio in the city …you know, kind of loft affair like you see in American movies … sleep there, and work there, and all these crazy people, artists and friends, would be dropping over all the time …and I’d never get lonely, because people’d always sort of wanna be there …and it’d be full of lots of other crazy stuff you know, sculptures and … (sobs) … and I’d have lots of boyfriends … and my mother would be horrified … and I wouldn’t care … it’d be …oh, it’s just a dream …” (she wipes away the tears) “Do you have a dream Billy, how you’d really like it to be?”
Billy says he doesn’t, but she asks him how he’d want it to be.
Billy says just money, he guesses, money to do whatever he wanted to do …(also tearing up and sobbing) …as he explains he used to want to be a roadie and travel around the world with some band …
Michelle: “Billy, you’re not responsible for your parents …you know, they’re responsible for their own lives. You’ve got to look after yourself. You’ve got to do what you want to do …”
Billy says she doesn’t understand.
Michelle (sobbing): “Oh Jesus Billy, you’re not the only one that feels trapped, you know? We all do it, we do it to ourselves...”
Billy: “What you think you are? Some sort of fuckin’ psychiatrist or something?”
David: “Nah mate, she’s some sort of fuckin’ patient, fucked in the head mate, she’s fucked in the head, screwy, too many ‘roos loose in the top paddock, just like us …come on you guys, let’s get out of here …”
Billy hurls something at the piano. David heads over to the piano and sits down, as Michelle holds up a screwdriver and says “Billy, got a few loose screws mate…. sorry, bad joke ...”
David begins to play a song (lyrics as above) …
Song over, the trio hear the sounds of cops approaching.
They scarper, pursued by the policewoman (Kate Reid), but finally make it to a road where they amble off towards the setting sun …
Billy: “So, what are we gunna do? Don’t know about youse, but I could do with a drink …”
Michelle: “Oh yeah, me too …”
Billy: “Let’s go to the pub then …”
David: “Oh shit, we didn’t find any money.”
Billy: “Don’t worry about it. I’ll buy youse a drink …”
David: “Nah, it’s okay …”
Billy: “Come on, what are friends for?”
Music swells up as the trio disappear over the hill, leaving the dusk sun-tinged sky as the final image. End credits begin to roll.