Children of the Revolution

Bomb Rating: 

Australian writer/director Peter Duncan's comedy becomes so overly concerned with being clever that it forgets to be funny. A devoted Australian communist, Joan (Judy Davis), goes to Moscow in the early '50s, meets Stalin, screws him to death, then returns to Australia and has his child, who grows up to be a rather weird little kid and an even weirder adult.

The point of the film seems to have something to do with the stupidity of unquestioning loyalty to ideology. Why this has to be burnt into our retinas by the sight of Judy Davis rambling on about the proletariat is anybody's guess. The constant bags under her eyes make one wonder whether she's just been in a car accident -- she's an actress with a unique talent to always seem morose.

Joan's purpose in the film is to be a constant pain in the ass, a task she performs admirably in relating to her husband, Welch (Geoffrey Rush), and her son, Joe (Richard Roxburgh). As such, it's a tad difficult to care anything for this dysfunctional family. You'd think if someone told you her son was Stalin's kid that would at least raise an eyebrow, but Duncan's foray into filmmaking barely elicits a yawn.

This is one of those films that tries to insert itself into an imagined historical moment (like other comedies such as "Zelig" or "Shining Through"). As if that weren't self-important enough, the movie also indulges in that most masturbatory of conventions, film-within-a-film self-reflexivity -- which is always my excuse to slap the theater ticket-ripper upside the head as I walk out.

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