MOVIE REVIEW: Jacobson brothers go dark with new drama
Director: Clayton Jacobson
Starring: Shane Jacobson, Clayton Jacobson, Kym Gyngell
Running time: 97 minutes
RATING: 3.5 STARS
Dark, claustrophobic, inexorable - this kitchen sink tragedy is a world apart from the Jacobson brothers' sweet-natured hit comedy Kenny (2006). Or is it?
Brothers' Nest could conceivably represent a parallel universe in which the affable plumber has been infected by close and consistent contact with other people's untreated excrement.
Shane Jacobson's new true blue character - a genial brickie-turned-security guard - is evil by default rather than design. Terry's main flaw is that he's too compliant, which in this scenario translates as easily led.
He's a nice guy, but an impotent one.
So when his controlling older brother Jeff (played by real-life brother Clayton Jacobson) comes up with a dastardly plan to secure their family "fortune", Terry reluctantly goes along with it, perhaps believing it will never actually come to fruition.
The film opens, just after dawn, with the pair cycling through the mist-shrouded Victorian countryside to a rundown house.
As the brothers gear up - in plastic orange boiler suits, head torches and gloves - it's obvious they are planning something sinister.
The act itself is a long time coming. In the hours leading up to the return of the men's stepfather Rodger (played with honest, old-school sensitivity by Kym Gyngell), Brothers' Nest stakes out the family home as well as its characters' backstory.
The brothers bond, squabble and remember as they meticulously prepare the scene of their crime - for Rodger's murder.
The catalyst for the pair's heinous act is their mother's cancer diagnosis.
But it has its roots in their father's suicide.
In a genre film such as this even the best-laid plans necessarily go awry. And Brothers' Nest is no exception. The twists and turns make an impact because Jaime Browne and Chris Pahlow's screenplay doesn't let its characters or their audience off the hook.
As a storyteller, Clayton Jacobson proves he's no one-trick pony with his long-awaited follow-up to Kenny.
Brothers' Nest is skilfully and economically directed. The tone is consistent. And the performances are strong.
The promotional material describes it as a pitch black comedy and there are moments of humour in the extended lead-up to the brothers' unforgivable acts of transgression.
But it's not a comedy in the classic sense of a happy ending, nor does it have the stylistic detachment of filmmakers who have popularised such fare, such as the Coen brothers or Quentin Tarantino.
In its fatalism, Brothers' Nest sits more comfortably alongside mythical tragedies such as Oedipus or Macbeth.
But this working-class Australian version plays out against a more recognisable, everyday landscape.