Ronnie (short for Veronica) and her boyfriend Jeff are a thirty-something couple who live together in Adelaide. Jeff teaches part-time and Ronnie runs a boutique foodie restaurant that is suffering an economic down-turn. In fact, her whole life feels on a downward slide, as Ronnie deals with money problems and a mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease. And then, out of the blue, she gets a call from an old flame, a famous-ish English actor called Henry. The two of them had a fling five years previously when Ronnie was catering on a movie set. It ended badly. And now Henry has dropped back into Ronnie’s life for unknown reasons.
He arrives in Adelaide with his personal assistant Sophie. She is a beautiful and French and these facts don’t help Ronnie’s bewilderment at seeing Henry again. Her emotional resources were already under attack and this impromptu visit from a pair of well-heeled Europeans has her reeling. She has somehow neglected to tell Jeff about the extent of her “friendship” with Henry and this is yet another obstacle to her hosting a friendly, relaxing visit.
Ronnie is having something of a crisis, she is unsure if she has settled for a smaller life than she could have had. Five years previously with Henry, she felt she was going somewhere, now she feels trapped in her business and relationship and stifled by life in her hometown. Henry, appearing like a comet, suddenly illuminates her situation and she isn’t certain that she likes what she sees.
This independent Australian film is by first-time feature director Marion Pilowsky who co-wrote the script with her longtime partner Lee Sellars. Emily Taheny does a solid turn as a woman in a life-crisis. She is best-known lately for her work in Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell. Audiences will also recognise Taheny from a number of other television appearances. Luke McKenzie does a nice job as the chill and only slightly-goofy Jeff. Eddie Izzard is terrific as the self-obsessed, about-to-go-over-the-hill Henry and the actually-for-real French Vanessa Guide is consistently amusing as Sophie.
There hasn’t been much critic love for THE FLIP SIDE, possibly because it was sold as a comedy and although funny at times, it is equally about the more dramatic story strand of someone who feels stuck in her life and doesn’t know how to move forward. Film critics seem to dislike this kind of tale if the hero is middle-class and the stakes aren’t particularly high. Neither Ronnie nor any of the other characters are about to die. The lives of millions aren’t at stake. There is no virus about to sweep the Internet or the human population of the planet. Instead, there is a clearly told story of a simple life-struggle that has some nuanced observations and drily funny lines. Ronnie is in similar territory to the Anthony LaPaglia character in A MONTH OF SUNDAYS or perhaps the Jessica Marais character in television’s THE WRONG GIRL.
THE FLIP SIDE is a light-as-a-soap bubble comedy-drama. Running time is 90 minutes. (7/10)