Gettin' Square


Directed by: Jonathan Teplitzky
Written by:Chris Nyst
Starring: Sam Worthington, David Wenham, Timothy Spall, Gary Sweet, Freya Stafford, David Field, Luke Pegler
Released: October 9, 2003
Grade: A-

Shot over a nine week period at the end of last year, Gettin’ Square was deserved selected to open this year’s Brisbane International Film Festival.  It’s a stylish look at drugs, crime and corruption on our very own Gold Coast.  Of the 20 films in contention for this year’s Australian Film Institute Awards, it’s the only one we Queenslanders can call our own and on seeing it, we should be proud of what we offer.

Barry Wirth (Worthington) has served nine of a twelve year sentence for manslaughter.  He was found guilty of killing a security guard during a burglary but he has always proclaimed his innocence and blamed the set-up on Police Detective Arnie DeViers (Field).  He was initially denied parole but on his mother’s death has changed matters.  His younger brother Joey (Pegler) needs parental guidance and Barry has been released under the condition he acts as guardian.

Barry has trouble getting a job on the outside but a friend who puts in a good word with restaurant owner Darren Barrington (Spall) who owns a struggling restaurant known as the Texas Rose.  Darren’s lawyer advises him to scrap the restaurant and reap the gains from the property market.  The plan is to buy the land for $600,000, bribe the Mayor to have it rezoned, then sell it to a property developer at a huge profit.  All he need do is put a $200,000 deposit down and it’s his.

Darren has that amount sitting with his accountant who’s been helping him with some light money laundering activities.  Unfortunately, the wife of the accountant caught her husband screwing around and dobbed in him to the Criminal Investigation Commission (CIC).  Now, Darren’s got nothing and may spend time in jail if implicated in the scam.  Barry’s going to help Darren out with the assistance of drugged up friend Johnny Spitieri (Wenham) and also look to square the ledger against the corrupt Arnie DeViers.

The writer of the film’s screenplay is Chris Nyst, a high profile lawyer on the Gold Coast.  I am sure he has drawn on many of his own experiences in crafting this intelligent screenplay.  After attending the premiere in Sydney a few weeks ago, Chris has to fly straight back to help defend one of his big-name clients, Pauline Hanson.  The director is Jonathan Teplitzky who has made this his second feature following Better Than Sex, a wonderful comedy which was released back in 2001.

Gettin’ Square offers a well rounded cast with the rugged Sam Worthington (Dirty Deeds, Bootmen) giving his very best.  For me personally, the highlight of the film was watching English actor Timothy Spall play Darren, the restaurant owner.  I first saw Spall in the Oscar nominated Secrets & Lies and have followed his career since with roles in Still Crazy, Topsy-Turvy and All Or Nothing.  It’s a tough job luring top overseas talent to star in local Aussie productions and credit to Spall for picking a good script and taking the chance.

Brisbane and Gold Coast locals will recognise many of the film’s shooting locations and it’s a great postcard to be sending the rest of the world.  No word yet on whether the film will receive an international release but so far the signs are good.  Despite the high quality this year’s Australian releases, few have performed well at the box-office.  Don’t let the same fate befall Gettin’ Square.  You’ll love it so see it as fast as you can!