By Daniele Foti-Cuzzola
Fremantle-based comedian, author and director Ben Elton has taken on some of the biggest names in music during his whirlwind career.
From writing the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and penning the Queen inspired musical We Will Rock You, his latest project Three Summers is inspired by a music scene that is a lot closer to his Fremantle home, this time Fairbridge in Western Australia.
The hilarious romantic comedy, inspired by Western Australia’s very own Fairbridge Festival revolves around a group of people from all walks of life whose lives collide when they all come together for an annual music festival held over three consecutive summers.
Among the group of music lovers is the talented and headstrong Keevey (Rebecca Breeds), who performs alongside her father, Eamon (John Waters) in an Irish folk band.
Sparks fly, literally, when she meets a folk-music-hating Theremin player Roland (Robert Sheehan). But as the two continue to meet over the three consecutive summers, they discover they may have more in common with each other then they first thought.
Also among the regular festival goers are a group of young Aboriginal dancers who are accompanied by their teacher (Kelton Pell), a highly conservative Grandfather and Morris dancer, Henry (Michael Caton) who attends with his daughter (and open minded granddaughter) a quirky group of empty nesters, an aspiring female rock group, a newly migrated Australian, Jafaar (Amay Jai); and Queenie (Magda Szubanksi) the folk-music loving radio host of the festival.
Hilarities ensue and valuable lessons are learned as this group of very different individuals come together through their mutual love of music.
Elton has assembled a who’s who of Australian talent for Three Summers.
Former Home & Away star Rebecca Breeds brings plenty of sharp wit and heart to the role of folk loving, Keevey and proves during her many musical numbers that she is a talented vocalist and dancer as well.
Robert Sheehan is amusing as Keevey’s fiery and opinionated love-interest Roland. While on paper Roland could easily come across as an unlikable character, Sheehan brings plenty of humility and humour to the role to make him redeemable and somewhat likeable, and his chemistry with Breeds is electrifying.
Australian screen legend Michael Caton (The Castle) delivers plenty of laughs as Henry and his character’s arc is one of the more interesting and heartfelt narratives in the film. Magda Szubanksi (Babe) and Kelton Pell (Red Dog: True Blue) also deliver plenty of funny punch lines.
Peter Rowsthorn and Logie winners John Waters (Offspring) and Debora Mailman (The Sapphires) round out the all-star Australian cast, but are regulated as cameos and with the exception of Waters are not given anything too substantial to work with.
Lovers of the local West Australian music scene will get a kick out of seeing one of WA’s most beloved festivals being showcased in a feature film. Elton highlights the historic town’s unique and quirky charm. The film’s soundtrack also boasts a number of songs from beloved Australian musicians including West Australia’s own John Butler Trio and San Cisco, as well as national favourites Gotye, Matt Corby, Little Birdy and Sarah Blasko.
While the film does have some pacing issues and a slightly repetitive and episodic structure, the strong performances, witty punchlines and well-curated soundtrack make up for it.
The films boasts a powerful message that sometimes we are not all that different from one another as we seem and reinforces the power music has in bringing people from all walks of life together. Three Summers offers West Australian audiences a rare chance to see a local story based on a local festival on the big screen and that is in itself something worth singing about.
For your chance to win a double in-season pass to Three Summers, simply tell us what you love most about summer. Email your answers along with your full name and postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org