Pawno is a character driven ensemble film set in the diverse and multicultural suburb of Footscray in Melbourne, Australia. It revolves around one day in the lives of twelve characters. The...
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Hope Dickson Leach
Pawno is a character driven ensemble film set in the diverse and multicultural suburb of Footscray in Melbourne, Australia. It revolves around one day in the lives of twelve characters. The film is set in an ageing Pawnbrokers and at the core of the story beats a romance, yet love is rarely simple. Within a day, lives intersect and motives are examined. It is a multi-layered story that celebrates the rawness of humanity and challenges audiences to see the world from a different view. Characters from various cultural backgrounds are reflected in the performances of some of Australia's most dynamic actors. It is the Australia that we see when walking down the street and one rarely shown and often maligned in film. Pawno is a film that has garnered much hype amongst the film world in Australia. A brilliant soundtrack comprising Tom Waits, Astronomy Class and Vance Joy amongst others is married with an original score to take the viewer into the sanctuary of Les Underwood and his pawn ...
Solid and fascinating microcosm of urban life in Australia
'Pawno' was ultimately a pleasant surprise as this viewer sifts through a plethora of Australian movies as part of member screenings for the AACTA film awards for 2016. With low expectations (and some dipped even below that), the gems of this season have been with the smaller and often first time film makers. 'Down river', 'Teenage Kicks', 'Girl Asleep' and 'Joe Cinque's Consolation' have been some of the stronger films that were entered into the race for the year's best.
'Pawno' may be overlooked, but i sincerely hope not, as it has much to offer and is, despite some tough scenes, a sweet tale at its centre. The script and central character belong to Damian Hill, and his affection/amusement/fascination with his myriad of motley characters shines through the screen and emanates from his break out performance here. His character's journey is especially interesting and unexpected. The film's screen time is shared between Hill's 'Danny' (a somewhat demure, lovelorn employee) and that of the pawn shop owner 'Les' played by veteran John Brumpton. This viewer has been attending local film screenings for nearly 30 years and Brumpton's career is distinguished and varied and nearly that long! He is perfect for the title role. The actor has the right blend of tough talking, world weary cynicism mixed with a hint of compassion that breaks through some scenes really cogently. The two leads are a great contrast in qualities. The film is primarily set in and around the shop and is 'a day in the life of' for the gentlemen running it as well as the various customers who frequent the pretty dark and dingy establishment.
The remainder of the dozen or so locals who frequent the streets near the pawnbroker's shop are a bit hit and miss, with some too broad; others not developed enough, but it does provide a very vivid and at times uneasy sense of street life in such a community (a suburb of Melbourne). There is a tense mix of diverse ethnicity; sexuality and gender; with the generally genial but foul mouthed pair played by Malcolm Kennard and Mark Coles Smith providing some much needed farce and social commentary. Award winning actress Kerry Armstrong lends a few moments of gravitas that might have been more affecting with a little more screen time, but it all added to the melting pot that is the world of 'Pawno'.
Australian films almost always struggle at the local box office, and films that are largely ignored by the media and a dearth of entertainment or movie review outlets, makes it all too difficult for little gems to be seen. I may have had to sit through and occasionally walk out on some dire examples of Aussie storytelling, but it is always a privilege to sit and experience narratives that speak to something authentic and identifiable. Films like 'Pawno' and the aforementioned 2016 features show that although bums are not hitting seats at cinemas, there are some terrific tales to rally behind. Thankfully there are now numerous ways to interact with content, and I encourage viewers of interesting cinema to check out some of the lesser talked about titles of the year.
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