Controversial Combination

A story broke yesterday about Greater Union's decision to withdraw The Combination from cinemas in Sydney following alleged violent outbursts at screenings in the city’s west. Shortly after, ABC News reported the possibility of GU reneging on their decision but by then the story had already crossed oceans, picked up by international outlets including The Herald Tribune, Asiaone News and BBC News. On the same day Andrew Bolt chimed in to do what he loves doing best - defending John Howard’s legacy and attacking anybody even slightly relegated to the political left, in this case critic David Stratton.

Phew. A busy day for keeping track of The Combination. Assuming the old adage is true and all publicity is good publicity – which is almost always the case – we can only hope this hoo-ha translates into good box office receipts for director David Field’s edgy, powerful and interesting film.

In the ABC report the screenwriter and lead actor, George Basha, was quoting saying “this film doesn't glorify violence, doesn't glorify gangs; it's actually the opposite.” Well, that’s not entirely correct. While it’s true that the overarching message of The Combination is to steer clear of guns and violence, the film’s uneasy ending manages to badly muddle its messages, giving a thumbs up to vigilante violence under the proviso that it’s driven by fists instead of guns. In this way Field and Basha are having their cake and eating it too, by telling us that violence isn’t OK except in the circumstances in which it is - in this case, when it's used to delivered moral comeuppance to the bad guy. In my review I wrote: “there is something uneasy and unexpected about the final destination Basha and Field arrive at (if you think you have the story pegged, wait until the last 15 minutes) which is an opaque commentary on vigilante justice that just doesn’t sit right.”

Of course, none of this is a reason to pull the film, and the response by Greater Union appears to be knee-jerk. That said, I wouldn’t want to be in the audience if a brawl broke out afterwards.

Early box office reports suggest The Combination made more money in its opening day than the entire box office collections of last year’s heartbreaking drama Ten Empty.

thanks to syms covington for the Tweets

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a great result...the box office numbers, not the fights. It's probably built up anger from all those people who saw Australia! Boo to greater union!