Directed by: Anthony Hayes
Written by:Brendan Cowell, Anthony Hayes
Starring: Daniel Frederiksen, Geoff Morrell, Lucy Bell, Tom Budge, Brendan Cowell, Jack Thompson
Released: July 3, 2008
Grade: B

You may be familiar with the names Anthony Hayes and Brendan Cowell.  Hayes is a 30-year-old actor from Brisbane who has been in the business for over 20 years.  He won the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for best supporting actor in both 2005 and 2006 for his performances in Look Both Ways and Suburban Mayhem.  Cowell is a 31-year-old from Cronulla who was nominated for three Silver Logies for his work in the television series Love My Way.  He was also nominated for an AFI Award last year for his great performance in the film Noise.

These two guys met in 1999 and became great friends.  Unhappy with the lack of good scripts being offered up in the Australian marketplace, they decided to start their own production company.  In 2002, the made a short film entitled New Skin which won an award at the Sydney Film Festival.  Ten Empty is their first full-length feature film.  Together, Cowell and Hayes wrote the script and helped secure $1.4m in funding from a variety of sources.

You might enjoy the film but you’re unlikely to walk out with a smile on your face.  It’s depressing.  It’s about a family going through some dark times.  Elliot Christie (Frederiksen) is a 29-year-old who has been living in Sydney for a number of years and has made a half-decent life for himself.  He has returned to his home in Adelaide for a few days for the christening of his newly born half-brother.

It’s a trip that he is making reluctantly.  There are issues that Elliot does not want to have to deal with.  Following the death of his mother many years ago, Elliot’s father (Morrell) started a relationship with his mother’s sister (Bell).  They are now married and this has created unease between Elliot and his father.  Furthermore, Elliot’s younger brother, Brett (Budge), has become a recluse.  He locks himself in his room and doesn’t speak to anyone.

Elliot’s return home brings these problems into the open.  There will be many conflicts and a great deal of soul-searching.  Can this broken family find a way to heal old wounds and move forward?

I think the emotions of the film are a little over-done but for the most part, I liked Ten Empty.  I felt there was a “realness” to the characters and the relationships they have with each other.  There’s also a distinctive Australian flavour to the movie which makes it feel even closer to home.  It will resonate with some audience members more than others.