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Chris Evans

Published May 5th, 2006 | by Chris Evans

The Magician Review

Classification: 15 Director: Scott Ryan Rating: 3/5

Australians tend to produce films from completely opposite ends of the spectrum, either farsical, but edgy comedies like Muriels Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert or extremely violent dramas like Romper Stomper. The Magician manages to fit into both categories.

It is an in your face film shot like a documentary following the life of hit man Ray Shoesmith, played by the film’s writer and director Scott Ryan. His striking presence is dominant throughout the film as he goes about his chilling business, mixing moments of extreme spontaneous violence with dry witted comedy. It is hard to know whether to like or loath the guy. But one thing is for sure it is hard to take your eyes off him.

That said, I do not feel the film has quite enough depth or character insight to match the likes of Man Bites Dog, a pseudo-documentary that followed the killing spree of an unhinged socialite in France, and doesn’t have the professional feel of Leon with Jean Reno.

Scott Ryan had to work really hard to get the film off the ground. He had already penned various screenplays and sent them to the US with little success. One of his university lecturers had assured him that his ambition to make a feature –length film about a local hitman probably wasn’t worth pursuing.

But he stuck at it with the help of a rough forty page script and various university classmates as guerrilla-style cast and crew members taking turns to record sound, act and film. Considering these constraints and only having a small budget at his disposal, the final result is pretty impressive.

Some of the exchanges between Ray and Max, the man behind the camera, played by Massimiliano Andrighetto, are amusing, although not really thought provoking, including a discussion about how much money it would take to eat each other’s shit.

I can’t see this film being a huge success in the UK and US when its released in May, but for pulling off a stunningly edgy performance, Ryan deserves to move on to bigger and better things.

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