I first came across word on Three Blind Mice when Glenn Dukes of Stale Popcorn vociferously championed it as the best film of the last year. The term ‘best of’ should never be taken lightly, especially from Glenn and they’re not wasted here. Three Blind Mice follows the experiences of three young seamen as we examine their last night before heading back out to sea. Such a premise, and even the beginning, suggest that a quirky comedy is on the way and although Three Blind Mice is definitely quirky, and even though a host of comedic elements are imbued in the narrative – the phrase quirky comedy seems too much like an underestimation.
Newton, Schmitz, Lesie
Three Blind Mice begins and ends with its performances. It’s an ensemble in every sense of the word, where even the smallest characters have their time to shine – but of course the heart and soul [forgive the cliché] are the leading trio. Immediately after seeing it I could not quite decide on a favourite, but days later Ewen Leslie as the ostensible lead fades more and more from my memory. His performance is not bad, but I don’t find it as proficient as his co-stars even if he does have the most profound character. I will admit that his disconcerting resemblance to Michael Phelps threw me off for a few minutes. Toby Schmitz veered in and out of importance for the first thirty minutes, but there’s that confession of sorts he makes in a restaurant and it’s not so much his voice as it is his face when he delivers it. It’s especially moving, though not in the obvious way. Still, neither of the men can compare to Newton. I’m not sure this character should work as well as it does but Newton adds so many layers to the performance that he’s more than just the stock troublemaking friend.
Newton as the director and co-star of the film [he also writes the thing] has created a world so lived in, so genuine, that we don’t for a moment doubt the authenticity of it all. I can’t recall ever watching a truly Australian film, but Three Blind Mice veers dangerously close to that old idiosyncratic British that we’ve come to appreciate. Lines are delivered with such deadpan looks and the seemingly mundane becomes exceptionally resonant. Still, Three Blind Mice is not perfect. It’s not that the shift between comedy and drama isn’t well done – it is – but there seems to be that delicate suggestion of something lacking. Something that five days after the fact I still can’t put my finger. But as Renoir said, perfection is an ideal – blah, blah, blah. You may not wholeheartedly laugh at Three Blind Mice and you probably won’t cry; but I’m damned if by the end of it all you won’t feel oddly – moved…? It’s a small film, but it is no way slight.