Pepe's View:

We braved a cineplex to see this movie on May 1.  I went with some apprehension as, firstly, it was at a cineplex and, secondly, it was an Australian movie about WW1.  I am pleased to say that my fears were groundless - this is a great Australian movie about WW1 which does not become overly nationalistic or jingoistic.  The events and characters could have been from any country and apart from a little banter between the Englsh and Australian soldiers  the film was thankfully free of overtly Aussie slang and references.  This is a true story - the script by David Roach is based on the diaries of Oliver Woodward - about events in France and Belgium in 1916 when Australian explosive experts and mining experts were commissioned to tunnel under the German lines and blow up the enemy trenches.  Hill 60 was a particularly notorious trench on the Messines Ridge in Belgium and to destroy this section of trench was an important goal of the European front.  Directed by Jeremy Sims, the film is beautifully shot and has a real authenticity about it which is a credit to him especially given that it was shot on a fraction of the budget of American War movies.

We follow closely Woodward's private and army life - he has a 16 year old sweetheart back home in North Queensland  - as he forms close bonds with his unit who at first distrust him as he is untried in battle.  The members of the unit  - all played beautifully by virtually unknown Australian actors - are intriguing characters and if I have one criticism of the film it is that some of these characters could have been developed more fully.

Brendan Cowell plays Woodward beautifully with just the right degree of intensity.  It is his film - the film stands on the authenticity of this character and in my opinion Cowell meets this challenge magnificently.

A great Australian film - for once an Australian story about war that is about men working and living in horrendous conditions and doing a job to the best of their ability and showing true friendship throughout without resorting to jingoism.

The tableau at the end of the film when thay have returned from the war and posing for a photo at Woodwards' wedding is revealing of the trauma and the scars these men carried with them for the remainder of their lives.

A great film.

Score:  8/10

Ma's View

I would have to agree that this was a most enjoyable film with all the elements you would expect in a war movie and more.  The interaction between Woodward and his young lady is quite delightful and sustains the viewer's hopes during the bleak times in the trenches and tunnels.  The film is based on the diaries of Oliver Woodward but one can't help wondering just how much has been added to make a good story - we have the usual line up of war movie characters - the hard-line "old guard" who refuses to listen, the young raw recruit scared witless to start with but a hero in the end, the tough guy with the heart of gold, the new CO who has to prove himself in battle etc etc.  The build up of tension is excellent although the finale where Fraser runs through the trenches in a futile attempt to save his friend is somewhat reminiscent of Gallipoli!  Brendan Cowell takes the acting honours once again with his underplayed style - I also enjoyed him in "Noise" and  I look forward to seeing him in "I love you, too" a comedy soon to be released.

My score:  7/10