RON (Blake) is a hot-headed petty thief on a path of self-destruction. He mixes compulsive lying with a penchant for daydreaming, all while trying to fast-track his way to a rich and famous life. He is spurred on by his sleazy best mate, Phil (Haywood), who offers endless bad advice while ferrying the pair around the streets of Adelaide in a custom Holden panel van.
The only reality in Ron’s world is trying to support his ageing mum (Edwards), but after struggling to hold down a job, he chooses to withdraw further into his own fantasy world.
A recurring sighting of a silver Porsche results in a chance meeting with an on old family friend, Annie (Raymond), who pilots the car thanks to her sugar-daddy, Cassidy (Tingwell). Ron finds himself swiping the keys and hitting the road in search of adventure.
A late-night roadhouse pit stop hooks Ron up with the spunky Sally (Capelja – Sue from Puberty Blues), a 16-year-old runaway looking to escape demons of her own. The pair are soon embroiled in trouble, blazing a path across South Australia with the local police hot on their heels. An uncomfortable sense of déjà vu follows Ron, who realises that his vivid recurring dream is playing out for real; he uses the premonitions to help the pair escape and bring them one step closer to their ultimate wish – freedom.
Jam-packed with the iconic cars, backdrops and general trappings of many of our youths, Freedom is a well-paced drama that relies on Jon Blake’s portrayal of Ron to make an often disjointed and blurry storyline ‘work’. We touched on the career of Blake last issue (In Your Facebook, p31), which was cut short in its prime following a near-fatal car crash. Under Hicks’s direction, Blake mastered the role of Ron and the split-second character lane-changes often associated with mental illness – not surprisingly, Hicks went on to direct Geoffrey Rush in the multi-award-winning Shine. It’s hard to watch this flick and not ponder just how far Blake could have soared had his career been able to flourish.
This flick was a pleasant surprise. Sure, it contains some script oddities of the kind that often plagued Aussie movies of these earlier decades, but it had me pretty much hooked from start to finish. It’s spiced with plenty of action and some high-end stunts for its day, and the vocab is unmistakeably Australian. The opening scenes showing Ron at the wheel of early arcade game Monaco GP are pretty cool, too! The preponderance of EJs is sure to warm Editor Telfo’s heart, but be warned, if you have any affection for custom panel vans you’ll need a box of tissues handy; the car crusher scene would bring a tear to a glass eye.
- 1980 Porsche 930 Carrera
- 1963 EJ Holden
- 1975 HJ Holden panel van
- 1974 VJ Valiant
- 1975 VK Valiant Charger
- 1972 XA Falcon
- 1966 Dodge Phoenix
- 1973 Triumph Stag
- 1972 HQ Holden
- 1958 Ford Mainline
COOL FLICK FACT:
Cold Chisel genius Don Walker created the soundtrack, with vocals on the single Speed Kills by INXS's Michael Hutchence