Tropfest Review: Great Day [SPOILERS]

Tropfest, the worlds largest short film festival, has long been one of my favourite events of the year. This year I bring you a review of all 16 finalist films. If you reside in Australia, you can view all the films on the Sydney Morning Herald website, or watch the all the proceedings via SBS On Demand. Outside of Australia you can view the films on the Tropfest Youtube channel.

GREAT DAY

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Great Day is allegedly the true retelling of a ‘little mans’ perfect day, which comes to a climax as he dishes out some ‘justice’ unto some homophobic hooligans.

The tale is framed by the man telling the story over a beer at a bar, which seems appropriate since the experience feels like an awkward coworker, who doesn’t quite understand what makes an anecdote interesting, rambling about their weekend at Friday night drinks. He talks us through a reenactment of his day in a light conversation way, providing a voice for the other characters in the story.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite liked the technique. The actor was just cute and interesting enough to pull off the way it was told, at it was a nice way to inject some unique stylisation into an otherwise relatively bland short film. Although in some moments he did go on a bit (you got an awesome milkshake – we get it!).

One technique that confused and frustrated me (perhaps because I missed some apparent Clockwork Orange references I’m told were present) was the “dramatisation’ of the moment he threw his milkshake at the bullies. Isn’t the whole film a ‘dramatisation’ of the story? They chose to do this part of the scene in a studio, in front of some curtains instead of on the street where the rest of the scene takes place. The only reason I could think of is so that the BMW the ruffians were driving didn’t get covered in milkshake (which is a total cop out).

But the main reason that this film simply missed for me is the suggestion that he achieved some kind of ‘justice’ by throwing a milkshake at some bullies. Firstly, he’s not convincingly the ‘little man’. He says that the story is a win for the guy who gets ‘shit on all the time’, but there is no evidence that he is treated badly day-to-day. He makes enough dough to live out of home, parties with friends on weekends, takes home pretty girls and is likeable enough to be buddies with the local corner-store owner. He’s exactly the kind of cute, ‘awkward’, nerdy guy that is totally chic at the moment.

Secondly, it seems the filmmakers were trying to achieve a message about homophobia but there is no real lesson to be seen. He throws a milkshake in some thugs faces and then runs away. He doesn’t even offer some witty quip to point out the wickedness of their ways – it’s just aggression in response to provocation (which is probably what the hoodlums wanted). The bullies are depicted far too lame and stupid for anyone to admit recognising themselves in them, and the chances of those thugs (or any bullies watching) taking a hard look at themselves and deciding that they should change their ways and their prejudices is very unlikely. It’s more plausible that the incident would have provoked them, and finding the storyteller gone, they’d seek out other weedy nerdling to take their aggression out on.

While most of the film has a nice cutesy styling to it and the lead character is likeable and interesting the conclusion of the film fell completely flat for me. I give it 2/5 stars.

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