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Set over three summers at The Westival, a fictional West Australian rural folk festival redoubtable local radio personality 'Queenie' describes as "Australia in a tent". Two young musicians fall in love against a wider collection of tales dealing with a microcosm of contemporary discussion points, including Indigenous, immigration and refugee issues.Written by
Ben Elton writes and directs Three Summers. A film set in the Westival folk and country music festival in Western Australia over three successive years.
Elton who moved to Australia some years ago has written a romantic comedy but he also throws is a little bit of politics.
The main story concerns Roland (Robert Sheehan) a well meaning but pretentious theremin player. The instrument people think Brian Wilson used in Good Vibrations. After a bit of musical improvisation he falls for Keevy (Rebecca Breeds) a sultry and talented singer/fiddler in her dad's band. Roland wants Keevy to do better and expand her horizons. Keevy finds him rather elitist and up himself.
The festival brings towards a cross section of people. Aboriginals who regard the white Australians as the illegal invaders. Henry who was sent over from England as a child but grown up to be a bigot, especially towards the the aborigines and the new wave of asylum seekers from Afghanistan.
There is a nod to the film Lion, as a couple have taken in a traumatised boy from Afghanistan who hardly speaks to anyone in that first summer in Westival. There are two couples who visit every year just to eat and drink wine, they never bother to see any of the acts. Then there is the humourless security guard who is a real jobsworth.
Each successive year we see Roland trying to progress his relationship with Keevy who is still frosty towards him, especially as he cajoled her to apply to a music academy which then rejected her. Henry comes to understand that for years he has been telling the story of his life as being the only story about Australia but he needed to listen to other people's stories and experiences.
Ben Elton certainly adds a political dimension to the story but it does feel rather bluntly crowbarred in. I speak as a lefty who has seen Elton on his comedy tour.
The story is light but amiable enough. It helps that Breed is appealing but the real revelation is Sheehan. I just did not think he could do light comedy and he astonished me with his performance. When I saw his name starring in a Ben Elton comedy, I expected a car crash as I have only seen him in dramatic roles.
There is one flaw in the plot. Why does Keevy use her dad's email address? She told Roland that she is on Tinder!
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