You’ll enjoy this film!
The Merger is a comedy with a lot of heart that could well be on its way to becoming a new Australian classic.
The Merger tells the story of Bodgy Creek, a small town in decline after the closure of its large timbermill. Town hermit, and former AFL footy star Troy Carrington (Damian Callinan), now known as ‘Town Killer’ for his role protesting the logging industry, forms a friendship with a young boy Neil (Raffety Grierson) and is reluctantly convinced to help rescue the ailing local football club. Teaming up with Neil’s mum Angie (Kate Mulvany) who runs a local refugee support centre, they devise a plan to recruit the new arrivals to the team’s ranks, much to the ire of Neil’s grandfather and Club President, Bull (John Howard) and ‘star’ player Carpet Burn (Angus McLaren).
Not just a heart-warming comedy about acceptance and finding common ground, The Merger, also touches on grief and explores its impact on the lives of the main characters.
The film, written by comedian Damian Callinan, is based on his long-running one man show. Bringing it to the screen must have been a difficult process, given that two of the main characters are portrayed by sock puppets in the stage production!
While there are few surprises in the storytelling, there are plenty of laughs and the performances are top-notch. The characters are just so likeable that it is a film that’s hard not to enjoy.
For producer, Anne Robinson, and the rest of the crew, The Merger has been a real labour of love and that seems to be resonating with audiences.
“We made this movie because we thought it was a funny, important story about how sport can bring a community together, but since we've released the film people are responding really well — actually more than really well,” said Anne in Orange last week.
“I don't think something has been told about the refugee crisis and done in a comedy way, where we can have a laugh at ourselves and our sometimes racist points of view… so you will find you will be laughing and then in a moment you will feel emotional and you might react to that and then laugh again and I think that is quite an unusual thing to do.”
Anne, along with cast members of John Howard (Sea Change, All Saints, Last Cab to Darwin) and Stephen Hunter (Bombur from the Hobbit Trilogy) were in Orange last Thursday for the launch of The Merger at the Odeon 5 Cinema.
Stephen Hunter said it is a story everyone can relate to no matter what code of football you follow.
“I related instantly to the small town... I grew up in New Zealand and it reminded me of my home town and the rugby club I belonged to,” said Stephen.
“It was just a really beautiful story and it is really funny, but it just has a really nice heart to it and that's what attracted it to me.”
John Howard, a veteran of Australian cinema and television, said it was an easy choice to be a part of this film.
“It was a bit of a gift to come and make this show, because it is not often you get a script and it is very funny and witty, but it is also full of heart and hope,” said John.
“It is disarming, it seems quite simple this little show, but the more you think about it the more you think wow, that's clever writing.
“And I think it is important because it is dealing with a situation that is all over the country and all over the world. People are having to move from their home and sometimes they are welcomed and sometimes they are not. Change is happening and a lot of people don't like the change but basically the message, if it has one, is if we all get on together, we can get through anything.”
The Merger is now playing at the Orange Odeon 5 Cinema.