MOVIE REVIEW: The footy film with a big heart
JUST like its ragtag footy team The Roosters, The Merger is the little Aussie film with a big heart that's kicking goals.
The Aussies rules comedy, written by and starring funny man Damian Callinan, follows former AFL player Troy Carrington, who returns to the country town where he grew up after an abrupt end to his sporting career.
Once the pride of Bodgy Creek, Troy is now known as 'town killer' amongst the locals after protests he led resulted in the closure of the local timber mill.
He keeps mainly to himself, living on the property left to him by his father and experimenting in wine making with the help of his two pet alpacas.
A chance meeting with local school kid and amateur filmmaker Neil (Rafferty Grierson) and his widowed mum Angie (Kate Mulvany) leads to a request for Troy to coach the hapless local footy team, which is in danger of closing down or merging with its nearby rivals unless it can find the funds to build a new clubhouse.
Troy strikes upon the idea of rejuvenating the team by asking Bodgy Creek's newest residents, a group of highly skilled refugees who are part of a regional settlement program.
Inspired by Callinan's one-man stage show of the same name, The Merger is a heart-warming story that uses the unifying power of sport to explore the divisive issues surrounding asylum seekers, immigration and the economic challenges facing regional and rural Australia.
Callinan brings a wonderfully dry sense of humour and subtly to the role. Sure there are the usual sporting cliches you would expect from an underdog story, but The Merger is more about mateship and community than kicking the footy.
If you're after a feel-good film that inspires without preaching, then get behind this home-grown yarn. You don't even need to be an AFL fan to enjoy it.
The Merger opens in cinemas tomorrow.
The Merger (M)
Stars: Damian Callinan, Kate Mulvany, John Howard, Nick Cody, Fayssal Bazzi, Sahil Saluja, Angus McLaren.
Director: Mark Grentell
Verdict: 3 stars