Australian cinema has never skirted away from current day topics. Romper Stomper shocked audiences by exposing the racist, skinhead gangs that brought fear to Melbourne streets while the controversial Everynight Everynight took us behind the scenes at the notorious Pentridge prison. Now we have a new film that plucks a topic directly from modern day culture and allows its audience to understand it a little more.
Unsound doesn’t show its audience what it is like to be a member of a certain subculture or what it is like to live with the trauma of being in prison, no instead Unsound shows an audience not only what it is like to try and live in modern society with being hearing impaired but also what it is like to be someone that is transitioning from being female to male.
Directed by renowned television director Ian Watson (Farscape) Unsound tells the story of Finn (Yiani Pandelis – The Stacks) who is coming to terms with trying to transition while at the same time trying to show the world that deaf people have rights as well. Finn runs a successful deaf nightclub with the help of his father Lewis (Todd McKenney – Strictly Ballroom) but finds it under constant threat as local residents like Angela (Paula Duncan – Strange Bedfellows) call the Police to have them shut down every night.
Finn’s life changes though when young musician Noah (Reece Noi – Game Of Thrones) drifts into his life. Noah is a gifted musician and is making a living playing for 80s superstar Moniqua (Christine Anu – The Matrix Reloaded) but he has trouble committing to anything and that could also be the case when he becomes involved with Finn.
I found Unsound to be a powerful film. Every scene feels like it is teaching you something new from whether it be how patronising the hearing can be to someone hearing impaired through to how difficult it can be for someone who is transitioning to do things such as cut off their hair. Just life Head On did a number of years ago this is one Australian film that gives the audience an insight into a lifestyle that very few will have any previous knowledge of.
To the credit of screenwriter Ally Burnham (Nice Package) the film steers away from clichés. There are no patronising Dads here instead Finn’s father is fully supportive of Finn’s choices, and even the romance side of the film steers clear of the many formulaic moments that we have come to expect from films like these.
The only moment that did leave me scratching my head a little was a moment where Finn breaks down in front of Lewis but then the next scene is them sitting around the dining room table with Lewis commenting about how happy Finn seems to be – I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not that meant there had been some scenes cut out of the film, but then that is a very small grumble to have about a film that truly captivated me throughout.
Yiani Pandelis puts in an amazing performance in this film and her name deserves to be mentioned when it comes to the AACTA Awards this year. She puts in a performance that is well beyond her years and should have Hollywood calling. She is also well supported by Reece Noi who himself is a great find while Todd McKenney shows that underneath that dance show judge persona is a gifted actor that deserves to be given more meaty dramatic roles over the next few years.
Unsound is a well-written drama made even better by the performances of its sensational cast. I challenge anyone to go and see this film and not leave the cinema having learnt some important lessons about those in the community around them.