FEVER(director: Craig Lahiff; screenwriter: John Emery; cinematographer: David Foreman; editor: Denise Haratzis; music: Frank Strangio; cast: Bill Hunter (Jack Welles), Mary Regan (Leanne Welles), Gary Sweet (Jeff), Jim Holt (Morris); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Terry Jennings; Norstar Releasing; 1988-Australia)
“Steamy modern film noir.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Craig Lahiff’s steamy modern film noir is set in a backwater outback Aussie mining town. Paunchy local police sergeant Jack Welles observes from a hilly desert location a drug deal going down and chooses to chase the car with the suitcase of money over the other carrying the drugs. The criminal’s pick-up truck rolls over during the chase and the double-dealing cop steals the money while reporting only the accident. The nosy cop under Jack’s command, Morris, suspects something fishy about the accident and annoys Jack with stinging questions calling for a full investigation into the Pakistani driver’s death. Arriving home early, a red-faced and sweaty Jack catches the town’s handsome young mining engineer Jeff shtuping from behind his much younger lovely slim wife Leanne. The cuckolded man confronts the much younger stud, and after a tussle Jeff throws a vase which knocks the cop cold. Thinking him dead, the couple conspire to bury the cop in a mining shaft. But it turns out Jack is very much alive and escapes. He’s still very much in love with his attractive but unfaithful wife, even if he realizes she does not love him, and pursues her as she catches a train out of town with her shallow lover and the suitcase of money. Unknown to Jack the cunning Morris has also boarded the train, and he pulls a gun on the superior officer when he catches him with the money in a storage room. The tale takes off from that point, as these four unpleasant characters act out their suppressed desires and undergo a series of bloody incidents until only one is standing to have the last laugh.
The twisty plot, using minimal dialogue, effectively conveys how desperate all these miserable characters are for some spark in their dull lives. The money is the temptation that makes them chase a false means to happiness.
REVIEWED ON 12/12/2004 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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