Erskineville Kings (1999)

Director: Alan White Starring: Hugh Jackman, Andrew Wholley, Joel Edgerton, Leah Vandenberg, Aaron Blabey, Marty Denniss. Australia. 1h 30m

When Barky (Denniss) returns home for his fathers funeral he thinks is safe from the pain and attempts to reunite with his brothers and find some closure however the mood isn’t quite what he expected, his presence sets off a keg of love, hate, resentment and frustrations. After two years of living away, the young 20-something has no regrets about leaving the grip of his fathers violent rages which are painfully detailed in flashbacks.

Hooking up with some friends, Wayne (Edgerton) and Coppa (Wholley) they finally track down his brother Wace (Jackman) in a bar and slowly the night’s discussions go from cordial to highly charged and dramatic as the brothers let down their barriers and reveals their truths which reveals a very dark chapter in Wace’s life.

So what would have happened?

Having the film set mostly on one site, for the course of one night it has the feeling that of a stage play, the driving force is the acting, powerful words drive the narrative forwards, the rewards of pushing his cast through these emotional waves almost won a few of them some awards and really hiked Jackman’s career into the bigger screens so it was well worth it. White uses all the space around his chargers, filming from unusual high spots around a pool table to near macro close ups, trying to navigate the waves of emotions through proximity.

Randomly there’s a love interest thrown in for good measure, she’s a bit of an escape mechanism but then shit goes down, the reason why everyone is so shifty eventually comes out. and the film eventually ends with a bang.

“I just didn’t get the space I needed, unlike others who seem to be able to do what the fuck they please”


Emotionally charged, poignant message for those left behind who have to deal with an abusive parent, and what life is like afterwards, it’s never straight forward but everyone should be proud of their part in this movie, it’s amazing how much we learn about the one missing character, the father of these flawed but strong boys.

Rating: 5/10

Related: The Daughter (2015), Two Hands (1999)
Lists: A-Z of Australian Cinema,
Spotlight: Hugh Jackman, Joel Edgerton



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