From the land down under comes West Of Sunshine, the tale of a man struggling to make ends meet, trying his hand at many things, but losing at one, gambling, and at risk from losing at another, family.
Writer and director Jason Raftopoulos (“Father’s Day (Short”), “Marti (Short)”) has created an elegantly shot piece of work, the cinematography is breath-taking, highlighting the juxtaposition between Australia’s haves and have-nots.
The storytelling is effortlessly mellifluous, whilst the performances of our leading man Jim, Damian Hill (“Broke”, “Nowhere Boys (TV)”), and his real-life step-son Alex, Ty Perham in his first role, are beautifully understated.
Jim is a man who has few things to his name. When we first meet him, his priorities appear to be: his beloved classic car, gambling, his son Alex and his sons mother, Faye Smythe (“Legend Of The Seeker”, “Love Birds”).
Due to his gambling Jim owes a lot of money to Banos, Tony Nikolakopoulous (“Predestination”, “Kangaroo Jack”), and needs to find it all today. On his way to work, as a courier, he receives a phone call informing him he was due to look after his son, a fact he’d forgotten.
Now, with son along for the ride, Jim must find the money to pay the debt and he has a short timeframe to do so. A horse tip-off works, and he wins big, but the compulsion to keep winning is too strong and he loses it all again.
Now he’s forced to ask everyone he knows if he can borrow money, leading him, still with son along for the ride, into a courier role of a very different kind, the kind the police look down on, the kind you don’t take your young son with you whilst you’re doing it.
Raftopoulos takes us on this classic-car ride as a passenger, looking into Jim’s life as he slowly, very slowly, begins to understand and re-align his priorities in life.
Whilst he may love this car, a hand-me-down from a father he doesn’t see anymore, it is just a car. And spending this time with his son, the things they’ve been through, the journey they’ve taken, the understanding of each other, the learnings they’ve made, mean far more to him than a possession.
The camera-work is beautiful and a shout must go to cinematographer Thom Neal (“Movement (TV)”, “Crush (Short)”) who excels. Between he and Raftopoulos, West Of Sunshine is a feast for the eyes, it should be used by opticians to ensure people can see correctly.
West Of Sunshine is a beautiful piece of work, a wonderful story that ebbs and flows exactly like life. We experience the highs, but where we can see what’s next, it takes our protagonist a while to realise just how low the low will be.
Raftopoulos should be immensely proud of West Of Sunshine, it points to accomplished storytelling and wonderful production. We look forward to seeing more from this young writer / director.