Review: Separation City

Have you ever felt like you had one last chance at happiness? For Simon that is the decision he is faced with when he finds himself in the epidemic that is Separation City.

Simon (Joel Edgerton) is married to Pam (Danielle Cormack). They have two kids. They live like they were meant to be together for the rest of their lives.

Then Simon sees Katrien (Rhona Mitra). Simon falls madly in love with Katrien. The only problem is Katrien is married to Klaus (Thomas Kretschmann). They also have two kids.

Separation City follows the entangled love lives of a group of friends.  It is a movie full of interesting characters and witty one-liners which have sprung from the mind of the male dominated perspective.

More well-known for poking fun at politicians, New Zealand cartoonist Tom Scott has made his first attempt at writing a screenplay. He includes his diatribes about politicians throughout, with the best example Simon’s boss Archie Boyle (Alan Lovell).

He is a typical politician – seedy, likes to drink before 11am, constantly fucks up and knows nothing. This creates many opportunities for a giggle and a few cringe worthy moments. He was essentially “monosyllabic but utterly convincing” as Simon once described him – just like any true politician.

Directed by Paul Middleditch, Separation City is Kiwi through and through, having being filmed on location in Wellington with Parliament as a back-drop. Funding from the very frugal New Zealand Film Commission, makes it a by product of the long white cloud.

However, the film has a very international feel. This may come from a small part being filmed on location in Berlin. It could also signify the New Zealand film industry surpassing the small country stigma and joining the ranks of Hollywood elite.

By following a typical pattern of a Hollywood rom-com the obsession Simon develops with Katrin is grand. He describes staring at her like a baby staring at a mobile above its cot. But the natural development of a wrong obsession soon blows the situation up in Simon’s face. In true Kiwi male behaviour, he gets rip-roaring drunk.

This bender ends with a chair being thrown through an umpteenth floor window and an attempt of a naked deep and meaningful.

Another laugh-worthy character is Harry (Les Hill). Harry is Simon’s best friend. Harry is a journalist. Harry is a typical Kiwi male of the thinking – in his own words – if he were to have a feminine side he would be touching it all the time. The character of Harry is well written and Hill manages to portray him without a flaw, creating the best character of the entire film.

This is a hilariously funny film, which male and female alike will enjoy with side-splitting agony. As a first screenplay from Scott, it is brilliant. The direction and acting has brought the wittiest screenplay this year to life in the amazing backdrop which is New Zealand.

The film encapsulates the idea of man-love gloriously – something I only know three fifths of five eighths of fuck all about, to use the words of Archie. But I will eagerly await more from Scott.