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|The Sound of One Hand Clapping|
From the haunting book comes the haunting film – The Sound of One Hand Clapping is by no one’s standards an easy film to watch or enjoy. I haven’t read the book myself, but since the writer (Richard Flanagan) is also the film’s director, it’s a fairly safe bet that what is on the screen is in close context with what Flanagan has written.
36 year old Sonja Buloh hasn’t had an easy path down the road of life – her mother abandoned her at the age of two, had various physical and emotional troubles through childhood and was driven to move away from her alcoholic father Bojan when she was sixteen. Now, twenty years later (and pregnant), Sonya visits him in Tasmania after all those years of absence. She discovers Bojan is distraught and aggrieved, drained of all emotion and resorting to a life of booze and cigarettes. As Sonja begins to piece together hidden parts of her childhood, and the dark secrets of her families past, we begin to realize the severity of the pain has been subjected to. Through a draining collection of fragments from her own experiences, a detailed portrait of Sonja’s suffering is powerfully painted.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping is a prime example of how one character can be carved into tragically different, isolated others. There are three main versions of Sonja Suloh – the three-year-old (Arabella Wain), eight year old (Rosie Flanagan) and the present day Sonja (Kerry Fox).
Through frequent flashbacks the film jumps to different times in her life, and what is impressive about this is that we are able to accurately feel the sadness and joy from most of her previous experiences. What is not impressive is that these versions of Sonja are separated far too much, so her character can never truly entrance us or keep us eagerly watching.
There are a few other things that irritated me about the film: the dialogue is bewildering and a little sluggish, and the “Scooby Doo Family Mystery” isn’t all that entertaining.
What The Sound of One Hand Clapping does deliver, however, is consistent to the style it sets early in the film – so if you’re lucky, you can be impressed from start to finish. But on the other hand, you could hate it all too…. Either way, compliments have to be made: Kristof Kaczmarek brings an energetic and sensual presence to his role, Australian cinematographer Martin McGrath (A Little Bit of Soul, Muriels Wedding) successfully captures the beauty of the Tasmanian landscape and Cezary Skubiszewski’s resplendent music composition is notably enjoyable.
If you’re prepared to be exhausted and depressed by an overworked yet still impressive flick, The Sound of One Hand Clapping may hit the right note.
|From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece):
Review © copyright Luke Buckmaster
|Just the facts:
Title: The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1998)
|The Players: Richard Flanagan||Official website|
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: Apr-1998 Last updated: Last tested: 3-Jul-2014 Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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