From Abe Forsythe, the director of Ned, a parody of the nationally renowned Ned Kelly story, comes a much darker satire about another not so glamourous part of Australia’s history, the Cronulla Beach riot back in 2005. On par with the Australian classic Chopper, Down Under serves its audience a slice of pitch black comedy where one moment you’re laughing away and the next minute you’re in disbelief as to what’s happened.
Set in December 2005, Down Under opens with ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ playing as footage of the Cronulla riot plays, creating the bittersweet and cynical tone for the rest of the film. A group of idiotic bogans are still in battle mode and want to keep the fight going, while a group of outraged Muslims are out to protect themselves and seek vengeance for what happened at Cronulla.
Two of the “skips” involved are Shit Stick (Alexander England), a stoner who thought the Cronulla riot was a festival, and his cousin Evan (Chris Bunton), an innocent young man with Downs Syndrome who doesn’t have a full understanding of what’s going on. They get pressured by the hot headed Jason (Damon Herriman) and the Ned Kelly obsessed Ditch (Justin Rosniak).
On the other hand, the “Lebs” are caught up in the drama and want payback for the riot. Hassim (Lincoln Younes), a Muslim student whose brother has gone missing after the riot, is convinced by his friends to join in. They think the Aussies have done something to his brother, and they search for both him and a fight.
Much of the film’s humour comes from the sheer idiocy of racism that makes people go to extremes, but also how clueless and naive all these characters really are. The racists often contradict themselves, from idolising Ned Kelly as an Australian hero, even though Kelly was actually Irish. On the way to their fight, the bogans get kebabs, which is Middle Eastern food. The list goes on.
Both funny and tragic at the same time, Down Under is a great parody of racist idiots and the shame that differing cultural differences are still affecting Australian society.
Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Wednesday 3 August 2016