Directed by: Daniel Lapaine
Written by:Daniel Lapaine
Starring: Richard Wilson, Emma Lung, Robin McLeavy, Nicholas Donaldson, Victoria Thaine
Released: August 31, 2006
Grade: B+

In the twelve years that I have attended the Brisbane International Film Festival, I have never seen a film sell out as quickly as 48 Shades.  Both screenings sold out in less than two weeks and I was thankful to have snapped up my ticket before it was too late.

Why the interest in this film?  It’s not often that Brisbane moviegoers can see a major release which has been entirely shot in their home town.  You can see Kangaroo Point, the Story Bridge, Brisbane Boys College, the Rosalie shops and the beautiful city skyline.  For those not from Brisbane (the majority), this won’t mean much.  For those from Brisbane, this is really cool!

Keeping that in mind, it’s hard for me to stay independent when critiquing 48 Shades.  I can’t help but like it.  One of its strongest features is the way in which writer-director Daniel Lapaine has captured the relaxed Brisbane lifestyle.  For this reason, the film feels “realer” than a standard teen movie.  Its characters remind me of people I know and the panoramic vistas remind me of images I see every day.

If the title sounds familiar, Lapaine’s movie is based on the novel 48 Shades Of Brown written by Brisbane-based author Nick Earls.  I haven’t read it myself but when first released in 2000, friends told me how much they enjoyed the many references to our great city.  If the cinematic version is anything to go by, Earls has a knack for good storytelling.  He has now published eleven novels, four of which have been developed into plays.  Other works include Zigzag Street and Bachelor Kisses.

48 Shades is the story of Dan (Wilson), a year 12 student who is in for the best year of his life.  His parents have gone overseas for a year and he is to stay with Jacq (McLeavy), his 22-year-old auntie who is studying at university.  Jacq lives in an old Queenslander with her friend, Naomi (Lung), and they live a life of leisure.  There are picnics, partying and plenty of drinking.  For the naïve Dan, it’s like letting a puppy dog of its leash.  His overbearing parents are out of the picture and it’s time to learn some honest lessons in life.

The film culminates at a huge house party where a few interesting revelations are made.  The dialogue is a bit cheesy but the romantic elements to the story are what make it a winner.  It realises that two people don’t have to end up together for a finale to be a crowd pleaser.  Before you think otherwise, I’m not spoiling the ending.  There are many romantic entanglements in the film and I have mentioned no names.  I would just like to acknowledge a mainstream film that has the courage to not necessarily give the audience what they want.

Judging from the loud cheers from the cast and crew at the BIFF premiere, a lot of fun was had whilst making this movie.  I wasn’t quite as excited as they were but I did walk out with a satisfied smile on my face.