He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (2001) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
36 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
7/10
Don't judge a book by it's cover
KH_11_NZ12 August 2003
This film is a perfect example of the old saying not to judge a book by its cover. Here in NZ the DVD cover is a shot of him underwater with cigarette smoke hazing it over a little which looks uncannily like his head is in a toilet bowl. Out of pure curiosity I finally ventured up enough courage to take the 'plunge' and rented it out. What I found pleasantly surprised me. The dialogue is actually quite witty and sharp at times. What really makes this film tick however is the characters. They are from all walks of life covering a multitude of nationalities, much like a real flatting / boarding situation is. Noah Taylor plays his part as a washed out and uninspired writer named Danny down to pat even though I think he must have the least amount of dialogue in the film. Emily Hamilton plays Sam, a young and somewhat naive girl who, like most young people, hasn't totally decided what to do with her life. I found her performance to be quite convincing and not contrived or overacted like some performances can be in these types of low budget art films.

Romane Bohringer plays a spooky role as a pagan who takes her religion very seriously at times (The scene where she convinces one of her brainless flatmates to be a 'sacrificial lamb' upon a burning stake is hilarious) Her performances are also above average and generally tend to give the viewer the impression she is a witch bent on injecting chaos into any given domestic situation. Alex Minglet is perfectly casted as Taylor, a serious drinker who enjoys dressing up in commando gear and playing golf with frogs. His antics had me in stitches whenever he appeared on screen. There are other brilliant little support performances by Haskel Daniel as 'Jabber the Hut' who controls (and worships) the television set and Francis McMahon who plays Dirk who is having troubles coming out of the 'closet'. Also look out for some weird European dude who only says two lines during the film, "They are very, very fit." - Oddball stuff but makes for good humour, especially if you are a person who has been flatting at one time or another. This film isn't just about laughs however. Ideas and themes of friendship and new beginnings are put across quite seamlessly into the plot as Danny experiences a rite of passage which takes him from being stuck in the past to looking forward to the future and leaving the mess (which follows him from flat to flat during the film) well behind. Brett Stewart plays a heroin junkie named Flip who is trying to get ahead in life but finds himself caught in a ever increasing downward spiral of drug intake. I feel this film touches upon the issue of hard drug addiction quite well as you can visibly see what it is slowly doing to Flip. The film is set in Australia and is in my personal opinion one of the best films to emerge from there in a while. The soundtrack is complimentary and the ending will leave you with a smile on your face. I recommend this film to anyone who has a taste for small budget arty type films and can enjoy a little bit of black humour with their vegemite on toast in the morning. 7/10
12 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Felafel rolls up housesharing
Philby-317 March 2002
Putting John Burningham's best-selling but episodic reminiscences of house-sharing into a watchable feature film was quite a challenge, but a veteran house-sharer, Richard Lowenstein (`Dogs in Space'), succeeds here by having several of the more interesting and bizarre characters follow the narrator (Noah Taylor) from city to city. The felafel, in fact, a throwaway line in the book, is given centre stage, and the result is a well-focused tale of the horrors of house-sharing – it's the `Secret Life of Us' meets `Romper Stomper'.

Noah Taylor is one of those actors who cannot fail if given a goofy role, and here he is perfect as Danny, the aspiring writer roughing it with a collection of druggies, minor criminals, aspiring sorceresses and actors, while trying to evade his creditors and write a prize-winning story for `Penthouse'. Allegedly irresistible to women, he fails badly with his female housemates. As one of them says, incredulously: `Have an affair with you? I'm not a masochist!'

Romane Bohringer gives another strong performance as Anya, a sort of social bomb-thrower with a taste for Druid ritual, who puts any place she joins into an uproar in no time. Then there is Taylor the mad drunk (Alex Menglet), Flip the junkie (a touching performance from Brett Stewart), Nina the terminally vain soap actor (Sophie Lee hopefully not as herself) Iain the doctrinaire socialist (Ian Hughes in Melbourne of course) and Dirk the emerging homosexual (Francis McMahon), amongst others. Some of the landlord's agents do not lack colour either eg Linal Haft's rent collector as gangster in Brisbane.

All these characters are somehow accommodated in the story, though an early peak (the great bikie party in the Brisbane house) is followed by rather a flat period in Melbourne. Once the circus reaches Sydney, however, things pick up again – perhaps it's the more effervescent air.

The tropical squalor of the first house, a battered `Queenslander,' reminded me a little of `Praise', a vastly different film in tone, but Danny is not necessarily one of life's defeated, though it seems like that sometimes. This movie has a decidedly upbeat tone; the last place might have been pretty rugged, bet there's always the hope of something more salubrious, or at least of more congenial flatmates. No doubt admirers of the book will take offence at what has been left out, but Lowenstein should be given credit for giving it a cinematic context.
17 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An excellent Australian Film
goodfellas_6910 March 2002
I can't understand why everyone here on imdb is bagging this film...I found it to be a thoroughly original and refreshing piece of australian cinema. i can't make any comparisons between it and the book as I am not familiar with the book, but the only advice I can give is that you should see this film.
15 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
So true
techcon9 September 2001
If you have ever lived in a share house then I reckon you'll immediately appreciate this movie.

I think Noah Taylor did a brilliant job in this movie, we need more like it. The director (Richard Lowenstein) did a great job of not making Noah look like Nick Cave, too much! I also loved the sound track to this movie..who would think of using Dr Who sound track in their movie...very funny.

Overall this movie from start to finish was very entertaining, almost a laugh a minute. All up a fantastic movie.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A fine film from Australia
craigkiwinz14 October 2003
I certainly enjoyed this inventive and unique piece of Australian moviemaking. I think that it was extremely well put together piece of film. I was always in pain from laughing so much. When the scene with the skinheads with the chainsaws happened I almost swallowed my Coke can !!! I must also compliment the casting director as the cast was certainly very well matched to their roles and made this film a pleasure to watch. I have been in the film industry ten years myself and would feel very proud to have been involved in such a production. My favorite character Was the African redneck, a brilliant and hilarious performance. Miss Hamilton is an outstanding actress with a huge future. Along side her alluring beauty is a marvelously dedicated and intelligent actress, I thought Miss Hamilton made the film so much the better. Congraduations to the crew and artists for producing one of the ten best films I have ever seen. And you go Miss Hamilton, you have everything it takes to go as far as it gets.

Craig Wilson
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Great, but best for the Aussies
Think_Rodriguez31 March 2005
A great Aussie film successfully continuing the tradition of character based humour that made shows such as the BBC's 'The Young Ones' so successful. The protagonist's frequent housing changes and philosophical musings are entertaining and while there isn't so much as an overall plot to tie it all together, you are absorbed by the gripping personalities of the characters. The film contains every sort of bizarre and twisted personality imaginable and flaunts them in a parade of pagan rituals, drug abuse, vaguely criminal activity and postmodern angst. However much of the humour relies on an understanding of Australian stereotypes and only viewers who are able to connect Queensland with cane toads and right wing military nut jobs, Melbourne with gangland crime and dodgy police, and Sydney with anal retentives, will appreciate the farcical situations that arise.

Not nearly as gritty as 'Trainspotting' but if the bizarre lives and apathetic self discovery of that appealed to you then you'll probably appreciate 'He Died with a Felafel in His Hand' as well. Not for people who aren't prepared to accept subtlety in films.
12 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Bizarre, quirky but brilliant
hobbitsinskirts10 July 2005
I have to say I approached this movie with some dubiousness as I had read the book, which had no plot whatsoever, and was unsure how they were going to turn it into a film, but I found myself really enjoying this movie. Readers of the book will recognise many, many characters amalgamated into a few central ones. Basically this movie is about Danny, an aspiring writer who has lived in 49 different houses with an assortment of dead-beats, moontanners, lesbians, Satan-worshippers, neurotics, etc., etc., their antics and tangled relationships. As far as acting is concerned, Noah Taylor takes the bored, lifeless facial expression to new heights. Despite the lack of plot this was a very easy and enjoyable movie to watch, although it put me off share-housing for life. I would recommend this to any movie-goer looking for something different and original with personality.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
excellent adaption
anics_3214 December 2004
this film stands out as one of the best films i have seen. i saw it recently on DVD at my brothers place when he demanded i watch it. i was very surprised at the film i was presented with. i had seen the reviews when it came out, and was not very drawn to it, but i borrowed the DVD and watched it again. i intend to watch it as it is being screened this Saturday, 18th of December, 2004, on channel nine. i was very impressed. the lack of physical expression from danny did not stop him from conveying all his thoughts, either in the dialog or his subtle actions. even if you are doubtful this film is an excellent example of the produce of Australian men and women.

8.5/10
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A note- and word-perfect (I owe Bill Gates 25 cents now) comedy
toplessman7 April 2005
This is hands-down the funniest movie I've ever seen. It captures the hopelessness of low-rent youth but remains incredibly hopeful, and explains why Australians always seem to be likable; every character in the film is bizarre in one way or another yet Lowenstein manages to highlight what makes them appealing enough to share a house with in the first place. As for the note-perfect bit, the soundtrack is surprisingly star-studded and perfect for the film - a mix of sad, reflective pieces by those who are known for them (Moby, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Passengers) and interesting covers and Australian artists (Nick Cave makes it into two categories). I'm lucky to have stumbled across this film in a convoluted and bizarre-in-itself way, because neither the book nor the movie are available anywhere in Canada (I've checked thoroughly).
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
A good watch, although very different to the book...
mazunderscore26 March 2007
I've read He Died with a Falafel in his Hand several times and I'm a big fan of John Birmingham, he is a wonderful author.

When I first saw this film I have to admit I was quite put out with the character being significantly different to that of Birmingham in the book and also the stories being quite different and most of them being left out altogether. I am the kind of person that get's annoyed with a film if it's 'historically inaccurate' (eg: Marie Antoinette, Becoming Jane etc...make me very angry!) and indeed it annoyed me that this film changed quite a lot of the things that actually happened in Birmingham's real life.

However, after watching it again I realized just how amazing Noah Taylor is and of course the supporting cast. I also realized that if all of the stories in the book were included the film, it would've had to have been HOURS longer. It seems almost as if the film is just a VERY small portion of the book, just a nugget of the overall story, which in it's self didn't finish with the end of the book.

I enjoyed the story in the film, even if it was significantly different. And although I love the book much more than the film, I have learnt to appreciate and respect the film for what it is.

It's a fascinating story and Noah Taylor is just incredible as the main character, Danny. I also recognize a lot of the supporting cast from other Australian films or TV shows. (For example Sophie Lee from Muriel's Wedding.) There's something about Australian share house living that rings true with so many people.

I my self have lived in many share houses and lived with some neurotic freak shows or stoned hippies or insomniac business men, and there is nothing that shows the transition from one place to the next more than this film. (And of course to a larger extent, the book.) It can feel almost likes nothing's changed from one house to the next when you move too often.

Sometimes you have the feeling the script has missed out on some of the plot and character development, but otherwise it's an interesting film. If only for Noah Taylor.

I do recommend reading the book though, as it is for all intents and purposes much better.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Great movie about flat sharing
rotsch_mulla3 September 2001
This is a great Australian movie about flat sharing. The main character is trying to get a hold in some of his flat, but is being disturbed by his late girlfriend and an affair and his best friend, a yunkie on his trip trying to escape reality. Really great fun for anyone ever been to Australia!!!
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
great movie but the falafel had a little too much homous but almost makes it up with extra tabouli.
tom63 September 2001
whilst having a couple of flaws, all in all this a really good movie....

it's style is nothing new and seems to have many similarities to 'occassional course language'(in style, use of music, and share houses) and a handful of other Australian movies, while editing the book comprehensively...

some may think it strays from the book to much, but while the book is written messily etc. and has its strength in the craziness of its actors, the movie also has this but has a little more structure and camera style.

i could go on and on, but all in all i can say the falafel had a little too much homous but almost makes it up with extra tabouli.

and "you have to admit... they are very fit.."
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Destined to be a cult favourite
vanessa7722 February 2002
After far too long a break, cult Australian director Richard Lowenstein has finally committed himself to film again with He Died with a Felafel In His Hand, a film based on John Birmingham's cult novel of the same name.

Funny, philosophical and forthright, He Died with a Felafel In His Hand tracks the life of Danny (Noah Taylor), a terminally unemployed, debt ridden young writer who is in the midst of his 47th chaotic shared household experience in Brisbane, Australia. The wiles of pagan princesses, neo-fascists and love interests aside, the Brisbane experience isn't even going to be Danny's last shared household experience.

At Danny's side in each of the film's shared houses in which he resides are fellow drifters Sam (Emily Hamilton), Flip (Brett Stewart) and Anya (Romane Bohringer). Tipped out of the confines of tertiary education, each of these characters finds themselves lost in a world that can offer them neither jobs, direction, or hope. Brought together by the microcosm that is communal domestic life, these twenty-something's struggle side by side to try and understand the point of love, life and existence as they roam across shared households in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

The games of cane toad golf played in the shared house in Brisbane, the policemen at the door with twitchy trigger fingers in Melbourne and the polished floorboards carpeted with over-inflated egos in Sydney all act as fitting tip-offs to the character of the city's in which the shared houses reside - effectively creating a neo-realism that is heightened by the film's use of on-location shooting.

While this film shows that the shared household experience is often a source of comedy and melodrama, it isn't always a bed of roses. Central character, Danny, describes the dictum that hell is other people well in the film, as he explains, "I've lived in 49 shared households in what seems as many years. I've been ripped off, raided, threatened, burnt out, shot at, cheated on, scabbed in every one of those years. My beds are foam slabs on the floor. My cupboards are stacks of stolen milk crates. I've lived with tent-dwelling bank clerks, albino moontanners, psycho f***ing drama queens, acid eaters, mushroom farmers, brothel crawlers, hard-core separatist lesbians and obscurely tiger-throated Japanese girls! I'm in a psycho-f***ing nightmare from hell and I'm f***ing fed up with it!"

Having read John Birmingham's book, I can see how this film may upset die hard fans of the novel through its reduction of scores of shared house escapades to just three, however, I tend to think that Lowenstein's approach is the right one. The book simply had too great a volume of characters, locations and scenarios for a feature length film to cover if it was to maintain any sense of coherence as a film. I felt that Lowenstein's crystallisation of the book's key scenes, played out through an amalgamation of its most intriguing characters, allowed the novel's most striking elements to intelligently come to the fore on film.

Lowenstein's approach effectively brings to the screen a beautiful, brooding character study that's one part dirty realist comedy, one part existential allegory, but more than anything, a maturation of Lowenstein's own directorial style, as evidenced in his last cult hit, Dogs in Space. This film's fine performances, allegorical dialogue, philosophical themes, use of music and sense of muted melodrama also stands up well alongside the fine tradition of American independent filmmaking propounded by directors such as Hal Hartley and Jim Jarmusch.

Much like the cult novel and film versions of Less Than Zero, the story of He Died with a Felafel In His Hand has borne two great texts which stand up well in their own right, whilst also complementing one another. Just released on region 4 DVD, He Died with a Felafel In His Hand is similarly destined to be an instant cult favourite. By rights, it should also be the film that makes Richard Lowenstein's name on the international stage. I hope that this happens.

Highly recommended.

Vanessa Long
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Read the book instead.
diagonals802 February 2007
While I do try to support the Australian film industry (being Australian myself) occasionally an stinker comes along and, I'm afraid, 'He Died With A Felafel In His Hand' is one of them. Much has been made of this movie as it is the adaptation of a book by John Birmingham. A book that traces the author's life through various share houses around Australia and humorously captures the ups and downs of house sharing. Dealing with an array of strange guys who collect their pubic hair, live in tents in the lounge room and complain about our materialistic and corrupt society. Putting these characters to life would have been a difficult task for the director Richard Lowenstein and this is clearly evident as the film isn't as successful as the book. While Noah Taylor is good as Danny, the tortured writer, the other characters in the film are two dimensional and not worth worrying about or caring for. The characters are merely caricatures of 'weird and wacky' people and the dialogue inexcusably overbearing, the delivery hopelessly bland. Too often characters come in, talk a lot in a very convoluted and quirky manner and then leave only for this routine to be repeated again and again (with different combinations of characters) throughout this meandering wreck. The set design is well done though but only reinforces the fact that this film is all about surface. Much has been made of the soundtrack which is good. Any film that starts with the Stranglers' 'Golden Brown' deserves a shot. But what happens from there is merely pot luck...

Read the book!
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Best Australian Film I Have Seen
pikeboy_17 November 2005
This film really shows how good Australian cinema can be. He Died With A Felafel In His Hand shows something completely different to all the pointless Australian films that rely on tasteless and crass jokes. When you compare 'Felafel with American cinema it is clearly better than the Hollywood dreck that is distributed in Australia, very rarely is a movie of this quality released in Australia.

Many people have criticized it's lack of story and plot but these elements are not necessary because the film relies on insights and ideas derived from the book.

The cinematography is beautiful and there isn't a dull shot or sequence in the entire film, though it still manages to remain under stated.

To put it simply this is one of the best Australian films I have seen.
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
great film
pendelton_the_cook11 October 2005
i am an Australian and am a fan of Australian films and 'he died with a felafel in his hand' is by no means a let down. few films leave me in the state which this film did, the first time i saw it was on commercial television and missed the first half hour, didn't really intend on watching the whole movie but by the end i couldn't understand why i felt so moved by this film. i hired it the next day, after watching it all the way through, at the end i still had the same feeling as i did the night before, i thought Noah Taylor was great as was Emily Hamilton,but also the minor characters, flip and all the other house mates Danny had stayed with added both depth and comic relief to the film.

if your thinking of seeing this movie i highly suggest you do, I've recommended this to all my friends, I'm a teenager so to get a group of pubescent teenagers through a movie with no college humor or breasts must mean the film has something going for it which appeals to audiences.
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Excellent funny and witty movie .... so true!
siriusianer29 December 2004
I have read the previous comments and of course, a movie rarely comes close to the book, due to time constraints and of course it always has to fight one's fantasy. But that's OK, if the movie is well made and this one is ...

And apart from that, I had shared house experiences in Brisbane for several years and everybody who had too can appreciate this movie, as it is so true ... and believe me, a lot of the subjects or experiences are quite close to the truth, as crazy as it may sound :-)

The Queenslander reminds me so much of my first shared house. I started of living in a 2 by 2 meter room and soon moved into a bigger room. It was great fun!

Watch it!
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
3.5 stars (out of 4)
mweston11 January 2003
Danny (Noah Taylor) wants to be a writer. He has not been successful, however, so he is constantly moving to new apartments and houses all over Australia whenever the landlord insists on actually being paid, taking his Underwood typewriter with him. He uses a roll of teletype paper instead of individual sheets because he heard that Keroauc felt that pages are limiting. And he generally starts each piece based on a couple of lines on a poster he keeps on his wall (something like "Black is the ultimate").

Somehow the people Danny shares these residences seem to all stick together, which is convenient since that means we also get to know them. Sam is a girl, but is generally just another one of the "mates." Anya is a vegetarian and is a little dark and scary. Flip is known to lie in the backyard at night with a reflector catching moonbeams. And everyone seems at least a little mental.

Early in the film we see a toad being hit with a golf club, and we hear it hitting the side of the house. For the rest of the time at that house, we occasionally hear the thud of another toad. This explains the "professional cane toad whacker" credit at the end of the film. Note: You never actually see the club hit the toad. The toad simply disappears when the club swings through. So it's mentally but not visually gross.

The film is more style than substance. I was reminded a bit of the feel but not the subject matter of "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." The dialog is very fun, although it is a bit too clever to be realistic. There are frequent movie and "Star Trek" references. There is drama mixed in to the comedy, but unlike in "A Hot Roof" (seen earlier the same day), it works quite well here. And the soundtrack is also quite good (the main song is "California Dreaming").

I came out grinning. I think I liked this film more than most, but if you like offbeat comedies, this is definitely one to look up, assuming it ever gets distribution.

Seen on 11/1/2002 at the 2002 Hawaii International Film Festival. Note also that this film is or is about to be the film of the month at Film Movement (see their web site), so there may be an opportunity to see it through them.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
Dreary film
gedwards24 December 2010
I've read up lots of background to this film .. John Birmingham, the novel, the stage play .. I guess the stage play must have been good, it ran for a long time in Aus. You can't really have a stage play with slow, dreary action and dialogue, but you sure can in a film.

I've lived in share houses & flats in Aus and London and they were fun, with lots of great people and parties around at other people's flats, weekly tennis bookings, nights out at the pub (like The Lord Dudley in Sydney) etc. I can't recognise the dreary, hopeless, filthy dirty world portrayed here, but then I didn;t live in houses full of druggies either.

This film drags from start to finish. Nothing believable happens. The lines are sloooow, with lingering shots of pained faces. There are a few comic moments, but they're deliberatley cut off to go back to the painful dragging. It's like a documentary of a series of squats lived in by unemployed drop-outs, shot in slow motion.

Film have to be sharp and fast, with quick witty dialogue for me. Enough said.
5 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
never had a "felafel" bef0re
kr0nik_bLYster9 May 2004
.. original .. the movie's has a unquie tone makes u wanna really whack frogs with a golf club ..

webster's for felafel .. in case u didn know either " Etymology: Arabic falAfil : a spicy mixture of ground vegetables (as chick-peas or fava beans) formed into balls or patties and then fried "

there used to be a british sitcom "spaced" .. not a popular piece of work .. but could certainly identify with the movie's feel.. the movie doesn't try hard to develop a plot .. not tht there is even a plot ..with a little less commercialised music . the movie comes to close to an indie .. as refreshing n original as a indie and equally entertaining.. defintely a must watch ..

surprising that its been rated so poorly
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Why?
hopoate19 July 2002
Take a book that everyone loves, rip the guts out of it and stick in a load of pretentious dross that is suffocating the Australian film industry, leaving in only the most superficial aspects of the book itself.

It could have been so much more, the film looks great and the cast, as with most Australian films, is fantastic. It's typical that the script lets down the whole operation with each department that made up the screenwriter's Arts degree getting a nod so big it almost knocks over the set. Any subtle elements of the book are discarded, making it easy to tell which scenes are from the book (crazy, zany, whacky) and which scenes are added (grave, weighty, dripping with irony). It's condescending, self-indulgent, lazy and a complete wa*k.

John Birmingham is one of the few Australian writers who can bridge the gap between rollicking larrikin and insightful observer. It's obviously alot harder than it seems.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Dead By Any Means
tedg15 November 2010
I am told that the three cities in this movie fit stereotypes that native Australians appreciate, so you might like that. Also, there are two good laughs in this.

In addition, there is a zany tone that might stick to young viewers. But otherwise this is a disaster. Most everyone seems to agree and cite the trivially episodic design, plus the fact that the moderately popular book on which it was based was not much followed. But I think the problem is more interesting. After all, some episodic comedies do work, and in particular those that define a peculiar, amusing world. This is common in TeeVee.

I think the difference here, the failure, is that the characters were not crisp. They never needed to be human, dimensional or sympathetic because we are playing with cartoons after all. But they need to be defined. They need to have enough causal coherence — what actors like to call motivation — for us to get what they are, what they stand for. I would suspect that I just missed the nuance because I am not Australian, but no. Australians have the same problem, even though they have the advantage of recognizable dress styles and phrases.

It is just bad writing. I suppose a case could be made for deep irony here, because the main character is a writer and the presumption is that we are reading what he has written. He is portrayed as an abysmally bad writer, and bad in just the way the movie is bad. But there is no sign that the film is that clever.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
one of my favorite Australian films
billhawkinswork20 October 2016
I have read the book that the film is based on and although the film is very different from the book i think that standing alone this film is beautiful and well worth watching. Out of any film i am aware of it accurately depicts share house life in Australia with excellent dialogue and some really great performances. This film covers a niche that is rarely seen in movies yet such an important social factor in the lives of young Australians, and it does it well. A humorous and kind heart ed social critique of fringe dwelling Australia. I really love this film and anytime i watch it i am reminded of the crazy lifeforms i have lived with in the biggest holes on earth. The soundtrack is excellent as well which is always a bonus. The book made me wet myself laughing but the movie adds more heart and i can definitely recommend it especially (but not limited) to those who have lived in Australian share houses.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Ultimately disappointing
timelord-310 August 2001
Felafel has been a long time coming to the big screen. Five years of begging for money, writing umpteen screenplays and casting issues have delayed this adaptation of John Birmingham's cult classic novel.

And now that we finally have it here to see it can be described as a big disappointment.

First off let me say that if there are any fans of the book out there (and the amount of dog eared copies of Felafel I have seen seem to indicate there is), you will not like the movie. Its as simple as that.

Lowenstein has taken Birmingham's book, picked out a few choice moments from it, and just made up the rest to suit himself. It is no wonder that Bimingham wanted his name removed from the credits.

As a movie totally divorced from the book it just may stand up on its own - but its lack of drama and its reliance on heavy handed character musings will work against it.

The book is a series of recollections by the author of his share house experiences. Now I understand that adapting the novel for the screen would have been a difficult task; when I first heard Lowenstein was undertaking it I said to my friends "that will be a difficult task" - but the screenplay is so removed from the book as to make any comparisons useless, other than to comment that the two are entirely unalike.

But Lowenstein's solution - to make up a ficticious central character and artificially create a love triangle with his fellow house mates - is a bizarre and severly misguided one. Instead of 90 minutes of rollicking fun and mayhem, we are treated to a film that tries to solve 'Life, the Universe and Everything', occasionally throwing in a watered down or totally made up exploit of share house living.

There are many stories in it that would be great on the big screen - the exploits with the fish fingers, milk crates and their uses, the radio program and the raid, not to mention the furniture smashing sex session. Whether or not it would have made the film a bit too undergraduate is open to debate; but I feel it would have improved it vastly. That the film employs the use of several upbeat songs to make the fact they are trying to liven things up to cover deathly boring script.

The central character played by Noah Taylor is the emotional anchor for the film, and in that respect he does it well. We follow through three of the 'hundreds' of share houses he has occupied, meeting along the way various strange characters, as well as being reunited with former buddies. At one point he berates a recently 'outed' flatmate by running through the catalogue of woes that has beset him in his great accommodation journey, and you can't help but cry out "why aren't they in the bloody film!!!??".

As I said before, as a fan of the book I was very, very disappointed by this limp adaptation. If they had the guts to admit it wasn't really an adaptation and put a different title on it then it might have made a better impression. But as it stands "He Died with a Felafel in his Hand" is a poor bedfellow to the novel, and that is a crying shame. 3 out of 10.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Are the talkies new to Australia?
deconstructionist29 December 2005
A movie that comes across as one "written" as though it was discovered only in mid-production that dialogue is important to a film. Interestingly, if one turns off the sound and just watches "Felafel" it is mildly engaging. The cinematography is fine and the film has a cool "look" but the dialogue is just so bloody awful it makes one laugh for all the wrong reasons. As there is really no plot beyond quirky loser moves around meeting even quirkier losers the movie is really just as easy to follow without any sound.

The only conceivable reason to endure the dialogue is some fairly decent music in the soundtrack but it would be better just to get hold of the songs because while strong they really don't seem to have any particular relationship to the movie either.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed