Film Review – Long Story Short

Long Story Short (M)

Directed by: Josh Lawson

Starring: Rafe Spall, Zahra Newman, Noni Hazlehurst

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

We all have the benefit of hindsight after the fact, but Long Story Short suggests the idea of previewing your life in the future to allow you to avoid your mistakes. It’s a little bit of Groundhog Day mixed with Sliding Doors that offers a bit of fantasy and levity in Australian cinema at the moment.

Lifelong procrastinator Teddy (Rafe Spall) has a habit of putting off making concrete plans until a later date. After he encounters a mysterious stranger (Noni Hazlehurst) in a cemetery, he wakes up the morning after his wedding to Leanne (Zahra Newman), but it is a year in the future.

It is now their first anniversary, Leanne is pregnant and Teddy’s long hours at work and hesitance to take action is already showing an impact – they haven’t even had a honeymoon yet. Teddy is then thrust further and further into his future at annual intervals where he witnesses a life he hasn’t yet lived and his relationships deteriorate. He must figure out a way to go back to the present and keep his life on the right track.

Spall gives off frantic Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller energy as he bumbles his way through each time jump and remains mostly in a heightened state of confusion, but also keeps Teddy as likeable as possible despite his obvious flaws and the character always being one step behind everyone else. It takes him much longer to catch on to what is going on than the audience.

But despite Spall’s theatrics, I found myself drawn to Newman’s more subtle performance, who grounds the story with her effortless screen charisma and expressive features. She is reminiscent of Miranda Tapsell in Top End Wedding, who was just as radiant.

Josh Lawson’s second feature as writer/director has echoes of other “what if” movies, a built in repetitive structure and the twists are not as surprising as Lawson thinks with most of them alluded to earlier in the script with little subtlety. However, there is a warmth about this story and its characters that you can’t help but want to spent time with. And the timing is impeccable, offering light alternative to recent dramatic hits hits High Ground, The Dry and Penguin Bloom.

Long Story Short will give you a few laughs while encouraging you to reflect on your own behaviour and relationships and take action before it is too late.

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