Ruben Guthrie (2015)

Patrick Brammall as Ruben Guthrie (2015)The easiest barb to direct at Brendan Cowell’s Ruben Guthrie is that it’s another Aussie film about the problems of rich white blokes (see also: Little Death, The/Any Questions for Ben?). This isn’t technically incorrect; the titular protagonist is, indeed, a wealthy white dude (Patrick Brammall). But the screenplay’s real concerns aren’t so much the challenges at his upscale advertising firm, nor with his Eastern-European model girlfriend (Abbey Lee, with an extremely dubious accent); rather, Ruben Guthrie’s aim is to interrogate Australia’s celebratory and fundamentally toxic drinking culture, by telling the story of an alcoholic Guthrie’s attempts to spend a year sober.

That proves especially difficult given the plaintive – and implausibly exaggerated – attempts of his friends (Alex Dimitriades) and family (Robyn Nevin, Jack Thompson) to enable his alcoholism. When Ruben’s boss tells him that he’s only creative drunk, I buy it. When his mum – the one who dragged him to AA in this first place – literally pours wine into his mouth, I’m less convinced. Equally unconvincing: the film’s undercooked female characters. Ruben Guthrie’s objective – to shine a light on Australia’s problem with alcohol – is admirable; however, its one-note execution is so diluted that the film ultimately loses its potency.

2 stars

4 thoughts on “Ruben Guthrie (2015)

  1. Pingback: Interview with ‘Ruben Guthrie’ Director Brendan Cowell | ccpopculture

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