After breaking up with her boyfriend, Devon (Glenn Luck), because he is reluctant to make the move from Adelaide to Melbourne Jules (Jenni Townsend) arrives back in town with no job but at least being able to live with her friend, Sam (Rain Fuller) and her partner, Alex (Nathan Barillaro).
Soon Jules and Devon start to bond over their love of all things media related and when Sam’s work takes her to Perth Jules and Devon start to find themselves becoming ‘pretty good friends.’
Australia has always had a knack for producing great indie filmmakers. People like Jim Stamatakos and Bill Mousoulis have been making films that have made waves right around the world for years. The introduction of the ‘mumblecore’ style of filmmaking also saw the Australian film industry produce films like Darius Devas’ Further We Search (which launched the career of Xavier Samuel), a film which has been at the top of this movement for a long time now. Well now comes a challenger to its Australian Mumblecore Champion belt because Pretty Good Friends is a sensational film that really highlights just how good mumblecore can really be.
Teaming up with screenwriter Nathan Barillaro director Sophie Townsend (who is a first time director) has delivered one of the most naturalistic films that you are ever likely to see. So natural is the dialogue and scenes between her main characters you would swear that Townsend has taken the reality television path and simply just hooked up cameras to follow Sam, Devon and Jules around. The good news is that unlike so many films that try to emulate real life so naturally this is one film where what is scripted and what is ad-libbed isn’t easy to see a mile away and the characters are so believable that you’ll soon be taking the issues and life problems that they are facing and realizing that they have surfaced in your own life a few times as well.
Perhaps one of the most refreshing things about Pretty Good Friends is that the film also brings Melbourne to life in a way that we haven’t really seen on the screen since Secret Life Of Us. Whether it be a shot of Alex and Jules waiting for a tram near Flinders Street Station or Jules catching a good old Metro train Melbourne becomes very much apart of Pretty Good Friends which only adds even more to familiarity of the film as it goes along. Credit must also be paid to cinematographer Tom Swinburn who brings Melbourne to life with some creative shots that never intrude but only enhance the actions between the main characters.
One of the reasons though that this film comes across with such a natural feel however though is because of the strong acting performances of its leads. Both Jenni Townsend and Rain Fuller put in performances that show that they are talented character actors and as an audience we can only hope that they are given plenty of opportunities over the years to showcase their skills on both the small and big screens. Meanwhile, many Hollywood actors could stand to learn a thing or two from Nathan Barillaro who plays the romantic lead in a way that it should be played – someone that women will like but someone who is also relatable to men. Together these three deliver some of the most perfect and natural acting roles that we have seen on the big screen for a while.
Pretty Good Friends is a delightful film that will have you wondering whether or not the filmmakers behind it have been rifling through your own personal diary. The film manages to explore the relationship/friendship boundary in a way few films have done previously. The film looks beautiful and is enhanced by amazing real-life performances by its three leads while also announcing Sophie Townsend as one Australian director that needs to be added to every film fan’s watch list. The fact that she is able to create a film that becomes alarmingly natural with such ease while building suspense like a slow boiling kettle shows all the marks of a director that is going to make some very special films during her career. Pretty Good Friends is a film that shows good filmmaking is certainly not a lost art and doesn’t need a million dollars to bring it to the big screen.