ABC’s new feature film Out West here is a collection of scenarios that take place in a single day in western Sydney.
Yet they will all come together thanks to the inspired work of Co-Curious and Emerald Productions.
The cast is outstanding, the insights are compelling, and the diversity is uplifting. This tapestry of contemporary suburbia is both real and dramatic, and unlike anything else on screens right now.
The first story, “We, The Spiders,” revolves around the magnificent Genevieve Lemon as Nancy, a vape-addicted working-class mother whose daughter Meghan (Contessa Treffone) has just given birth to her granddaughter, Grace. But Megan is also under police surveillance, handcuffed to a bed, and mother and daughter do not see Grace in their lives. When she goes to the hospital, Nancy also reluctantly babysits a young Lebanese girl (Mia-Lore Bayeh) who doesn’t speak English. But when she sees Baby Grace in a crib, everything changes.
“Give me the strength to accept the things I can’t change and the courage to change the things I can…” she prays.
His next actions will activate the rest of the film, as we shift the narratives to “Everything Changes,” which centers around parking attendant Jorge (Christian Ravello).
Jorge is separated from his wife, trying to remain a good father to his son Felipe (Jaime Ureta), who is a football fan. However, when he encounters Nancy fleeing the hospital, he tries to take matters into his own hands.
“Brotherhood” stars three young friends of different backgrounds, Robi (Arka Das), Dino (Thuso Lekwape) and Rashid (Rahel Romahn), who run away from housing commission apartments, in the middle of a boyish blue. Will they be able to put their differences aside to help Keko (De Lovan Zandy) who lies bleeding on the street?
In “The Eternal Dance” a woman (Leah Vandenberg) watches her elderly Indian father clinging to life in a hospital bed. But when she starts speaking Bengali, she is unable to communicate until she asks a stranger for a favor.
In “The Musician” ex-refugee Keko is trying to make his way in a new country and earn an honest income for his young family. But its unique trade in handcrafted musical instruments is not in great demand.
There are three other stories, “Brother Tom” with a Vietnamese family with actors Brandon Nguyen, Khoi Trinh,; “The Long Shift” with Anita Hegh and Christine Milo as nurses; “Closing Night” in which a grandmother (Gabrielle Chan) and granddaughter (Jing Xuan Chan) work on the last night of a restaurant.
The way the stories interconnect is like a jigsaw puzzle of Western Sydney in one day and they work like little unwrapping presents. As you delve into different communities, mostly without ever really knowing why, the connections soon become apparent to the viewer.
Along the way, in addition to the cultural insights, are some fine acting performances, including Genevieve Lemon, Rahel Romahn, Anita Hegh, and Leah Vandenberg.
With themes of survival, compromise, immersion, Out West here is artfully constructed by writers Nisrine Amine, Bina Bhattacharya, Matias Bolla, Claire Cao, Arka Das, Dee Dogan, Vonne Patiag, Tien Tran and attracts the attention of directors Fadia Abboud, Lucy Gaffy, Julie Kalceff, Ana Kokkinos and Leah Purcell . Special mention to Blake Ayshford as writer (and executive producer) for the challenge of cohesion.
The form is minor Rashmon and more of a narrative passing of the baton, but it works flawlessly without ever exceeding its welcome.
The amount of creatives who have had an opportunity here is wonderful. Do not miss it.
Here Out West airs Sundays at 8:30 pm on ABC.