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FAST TALKING (director/writer: Ken Cameron; cinematographer: David Gribble; editor: David Huggett; music Sharon Calcraft; cast: Steve Carson (Rod Zuanic), Toni Allaylis (Vicki), Chris Truswell (Moose), Gail Sweeny (Narelle), Steve Bisley (Redback), Peter Hehir (Ralph Carson), Tracy Mann (Sharon Hart), Denis Moore (Mr. Yates), Garry Cook (Al Carson), Julie McGregor (Steve’s mother); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ross Matthews; Cinecom International Films; 1984-Autralia)
It plays more as a cartoonish comedy than as a hard-edged, street-smart coming-of-age film.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Writer-Director Ken Cameron(“Monkey Grip”/”The Umbrella Woman”/”Police Crop: The Winchester Conspiracy”)is a former high school teacher, who shares his knowledge with us about teaching delinquents in a Sydney high school (filmed at Balmain High School in Sydney). It plays more as a cartoonish comedy than as a hard-edged, street-smart coming-of-age film, as it celebrates not obeying the rules as something to cheer about. The students are all novice actors, and give realistic portrayals that makes them believable characters. It’s a pic that’s quick to blame delinquency on parents, teachers, administrators, police, and society, but goes easy on placing the blame squarely on the youthful offender (its mantra is that it’s fun to let off steam if you come from a dysfunctional home and school is a joke, run by an uncaring staff).

Steve Carson (Rod Zuanic) is a pint-sized, baby-faced fifteen-year-old scheming cut-up from a broken home in Sydney: his selfish bad parenting mother (Julie McGregor) ran off with a cake shop owner, his big brother is a slime who uses him to push drugs, and his dad is a mean-spirited alcoholic who is unsuitable for employment and raising children. School is a waste of time for the dead-end kid, who hangs with fellow deadbeats Moose (Chris Truswell), Vicki (Toni Allaylis) and Narelle (Gail Sweeny) they are aimless and get into one jam after another. Steve is always in trouble with his teachers, even with the troubled new reading teacher Ms. Hart (Tracy Mann ) who tries to make friends with him. Ms. Hart is also someone who is detested by the administration for her non-conformity. The cartoonish deputy principal (Denis Moore) lives for the day Steve will get caught dealing drugs, and in the meantime punishes him by giving him a few lashes on the hand with his whip.

The wise guy kid is filled with charm, but after about fifteen minutes of seeing him in action his charm wears thin. We see Steve fast talk his way out of numerous jams, in improbable ways running away from his adversaries even when in their clutches, acting disruptive in the class, stealing at will, lying, smoking cigarettes and performing anti-social acts of destruction. The point made is that society has not been able to reach such emotionally disturbed youngsters who are not all bad (Steve cares about the family’s greyhound that dad poisons and he won’t peddle heroin), and that down the road if untreated such neglected children will most likely grow into hardened criminals or deadbeat spongers society will then have to pay heavily for because of their present neglect.

After Steve and his cronies burn down the deputy principal’s office when told they won’t receive a school certificate, Steve alone escapes when given by his junkyard owner biker mentor (Steve Bisley) an unlicensed motorcycle with bad brakes to outrun the pursuing police (the pic seems to think this is good mentoring, as it leaves no impression otherwise).

I didn’t care for this film’s murky ending, its bogus message on rebellion, or in how flippant it was about kids who were either ignored, abused or given bad advice by those whose intentions were sincere in helping them. I never felt right about what Cameron was reaching for, even though I thought his heart was in the right place.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”