Let me give you some necessary background information before I make a bold statement. I am a theater guy. I frequently listen to musical soundtracks, I like musicals, and I am okay with musical logic (or lack there-of). I watch a lot of weird films. I seek them out, actually. Sure, there are many, many obscure films that I’ve yet to see, but I’m working on it. Bear that in mind when I tell you that Brand New Day is one of the strangest things I have ever seen. You have not lived until you’ve seen Geoffery Rush singing “There’s nothing I would rather be than to be an aborigine” while dressed as a priest and kicking his legs out to the music.
Which is to say, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Brand New Day. Check below to find out more.
Brand New Day is an adaptation of the Australian musical Bran Nue Dae. It tells the story of Willie, who is learning how to be a priest from Father Benedictus (Geoffery Rush), but runs away so he can be with Rosie, who thought that Willie abandoned her and is now dating/singing with Lester, who is a jerk, but he (Willie) got lost, and Uncle Tadpole, who is a hobo, is helping him find his way back to Broome, his hometown, by way to two hippies who hit him with their van. Which is to say, it’s absolutely ridiculous. Ridiculous and awesome.
Everything that happens in the film is strange. Many of them fit in the weirdness of a musical, but it goes beyond that, including the most shockingly abrupt transition to music I have ever seen/heard in a musical. I watched that scene a second time, and it was still jarring. Half the fun of the film is seeing how everything works out, so I won’t ruin anything, but I will say that none of it makes any sense. At all. Despite that, as I watched, all of the film’s problems became irrelevant, and I started laughing, and I kept laughing. By the end I was in hysterics.
The film’s main problem is with acting. Although Geoffery Rush does a fine job, of course, everyone else in the cast is capable at best and Tommy Wiseau at worst. The most notable offender is the guy who plays Willie. He’s not a great singer (not bad, but not great), and his acting is incredibly bad. His inflection is always wrong, his face never fits his (supposed) mood, and he is just completely incompetent. I have no idea why he was cast in the part at all. It kind of fits with the craziness, but it’s still pretty horrifying at times to see people so incapable of portraying generic characters.
The cinematography, on the other hand, is absolutely gorgeous. What the camera itself does is kind of weird and occasionally off-putting, but Australia is beautiful. If anything has ever made me want to visit the land down under, it’s this movie. I was consistently wowed by the quality of the movie itself. The locations are incredible, and the colors are mind-blowing. If you can see this movie on Blu ray, you absolutely must.
The real question about a musical, though, is always about the quality of the music. Fortunately, Brand New Day succeeds here as well. My only issue is that there were not enough songs. A number of times new music would start up and I would get ready for a new song, but then the music would taper off. Regardless, what does exist is pretty awesome. Some of the songs are catchy as hell, and I definitely think the music is the highlight of the film. Even if you don’t see Brand New Day, you should absolutely pick up its soundtrack.
But you should see Brand New Day. Movie musicals are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and the ones that do exist… well, they aren’t like this. The acting is terrible and there are other niggling issues, but the visuals and soundtrack more than make up for them, as well as the hilarity of it all. If this is typical for Australian musicals, I hope more of these make it to our shores.[Brand New Day is now available on Blu ray and DVD]