Film: Three Summers

The world premiere of Three Summers took place close to home, at Melbourne International Film Festival in August this year, and there is good reason why this Australian film continues to circulate.

I recently saw the Ben Elton directed film at Backlot Studios in Southbank, and once again, audience reception remained fairly positive. Set in Western Australia, the fictional story follows the classical romantic comedy trope of a very mismatched pair who are coming to terms with their feelings for one another despite their conflicting worldviews, which in this case, are music based views- folk music to be exact.

The feature is set against a backdrop of a rural community-loved annual folk music festival, the ‘Westival’, over three consecutive years. The festival location provides opportunity for a large array of supporting characters to fill in for extra comedic and emotional relief in a non-invasive way to the main plot. In fact, they complement the story effectively, as you are presented with a diversity of cultures, communities and characters united by music and recreation – as you would if you were attending a festival yourself.

We see wine loving empty nesters who get together once a year, an Aboriginal traditional dance group with a passionate leader trying to get through to the troubled youth, a young refugee getting to know his well intentioned foster guardians, the generational differences between a millennial granddaughter and her grandfather who was an English orphan migrant and also fronts a traditional dance group, and an Alcoholics Anonymous counsellor communicating with a performer in need of support but in serious denial. Magda Szubanski’s plays a charmingly naive character, Queenie, a community radio presenter who covertly narrates parts of the film. Her character expresses the film thoughtfully saying “it’s Australia in a tent”.

While the film is extremely family friendly and light hearted, many topics in Australian dialogue come to light briefly throughout the film. These include coming to terms with cultural identity, attitudes towards immigration, and overcoming addiction and its effects on family and relationships, to name a few. Sticking with the genre however, most characters happen to be understatedly hilarious which allows for light reflection of these issues without overly politicizing the film, keeping it perfectly family friendly for a very wide audience range.

The two lead roles, fiddle-playing charismatic performer Keevy (Home and Away alumni Rebecca Breeds), and the verbose, somewhat conceited, very unintentionally funny, Irish theremin player Roland (Robert Sheehan), do a remarkable job at portraying strong individual character. After their literal spark-flying first meeting scene, they continue to share a chemistry on screen which is worth following over the three summers. 

This is a gem of a film with an Australian star studded cast which includes John Waters, Michael Caton, Kelton Pell, Deborah Mailman, Jacqueline Mcquenzie. The film features hearty folk musical sequences and an upbeat soundtrack, and a steady flow of one liners to keep solo viewers, families, and film buffs entertained.


Three Summers is in cinemas nationally from November 2.


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