Garish Hearts is uniquely Sydney

The debut feature from production company Ruin Films is Garish Hearts, an absurdist melodrama featuring many familiar Sydney faces and locations; distorted through the peculiar lens of Jay Cruikshank and Angela Garrick.

The film centres around an assortment of characters; a “glamorous” widow, a reality television “star” and a teenage pair meeting for the first time over a “date” arranged online. Clearly the Ionesco-esque absurdity inspires a lot of inverted commas. Their paths blur and cross throughout; stemming from a mysterious death and concluding at a cult funeral.

In true Sydney style, the piece is charmingly DIY. Actors are friends and fellow artists, sets are mate’s apartments. Though this could add a kind of “film school budget” aesthetic to Garish Hearts, instead it takes you beyond the fourth wall and creates a lingering familiarity. I read once that you only dream about faces you’ve seen before, and as wankingly pretentious as that sounds, this kind of déjà vu pervades Garish Hearts.

Beyond scenes of shop-lifting, kahlúa drinking and video blogging – what I took from this film is the inaccuracy and absurdity of one’s self-image. The disparity between reality (how the audience sees the characters) and their perceptions (how they see themselves), is the credit of Garish Hearts. It’s buoyed by clever dialogue and spurred on by farcical humour.

Though dialogue audio has its problems and was challenging to dissipher at times, the soundtrack more than makes up for these inadequacies. The song which opens and closes Garish Hearts was written by its star Carole Sharkey-Waters in her 70‘s teen years, and remade for the film. Combine this gem of detail with backing-tracks by a handful of Sydney garage trailblazers and you’ve already forgotten misheard dialogue.

Darkly funny, charmingly lo-fi and punctuated with a killer soundtrack, Garish Hearts is uniquely Sydney, strangely lingering and a commendable first effort for Ruin Films.

Tickets to the Sydney premiere, June 26th at the Dendy Opera Quays, can be found here.



Review by Bianca Cornale.