Ned


Directed by: Abe Forsythe
Written by:Abe Forsythe
Starring: Abe Forsythe, Felix Williamson, Jeremy Sims, Nick Flint, Damon Herriman
Released: May 22, 2003
Grade: B

One day I hope to direct a motion picture and I’ve felt there’s no real hurry.  Most directors are older than 40 and rise their way to the top by putting together a resume of experience.  I have plenty of time… or do I?

To make me feel a little older, I look at the story of Abe Forsythe.  Forsythe dropped out of school when he was 15 but it didn’t stop him winning a huge short film award at Tropfest one year later.  Forsythe didn’t just work behind the camera, he acted in front of it.  After popping up in a few small television shows, he landed his biggest role to date when in 2001, he was cast in Channel Seven’s Always Greener.

While working on the show, he wrote a screenplay and then pitched it to potential investors.  As expected, they were very reluctant to allow a 20-year-old full control but after much searching, the newly established Ocean Pictures and the reliable Becker Entertainment put up the funding.  The film has finally made it to the big screen and Ned is the title.  I can honestly say that in the eight year I’ve been reviewing films, this would be the youngest director I have seen.

Forsythe also has the leading role in this farce on the legend of Ned Kelly.  If you think its release is just to piggy back on the press of Heath Ledger’s Ned Kelly, you’d be wrong.  Forsythe’s film was approved well before Ledger’s version.  Having trashed Ned Kelly several weeks ago, I’m proud to report I found this comedic adaptation much more entertaining.

The bulk of the jokes are in the earlier scenes and you can see the idea wearing a little thin towards the end.  It begins by showing young Ned abandoning his father’s rubber farm and riding out on his pony to begin a career as a magician.  To fund his magic show, he joins a gang which robs banks.  Ned isn’t very experienced but he becomes an instant celebrity thanks to the letterbox he wears as a hat.  And thus, the chace begins to capture him.

A large percentage of the jokes are quite dirty and be warned an MA rating does apply.  I say this not to discredit the film but just to express my surprise at how a film which looks so innocent from the trailers and posters, has more to it.  The final scene itself is a perfect example.  Don’t ask me how but Forsythe has assembled an amazing array of B-grade star cameos.  I won’t spoil them but the clear highlight is a moment during which a face from the past introduces himself to Ned’s dad, Mr. Kelly.

Forsythe’s screenplay mocks many clichés and enjoyably spoofs several other films.  The slapstick style allowed plenty of potential and whilst not all jokes work as well as expected, it’s a fun ride.  Only showing on a limited number of screens, I fear those that had faith in Forsythe won’t be rewarded financially for their efforts.  Down the track though, they can lay claim to producing the very first film of a very experienced director.