Futile Attraction
Their body language suggests no one’s getting lucky tonight.

Theatrical Release Date: 10/06/2005 (New Zealand), 05/27/2008 (U.S. DVD release)
Director: Mark Prebble
Cast: Alistair Browning, Glenda Tuaine, Peter Rutherford, Danielle Mason

I really don’t know why I continue to live in the United States. Our dollar is tanking, during elections I have to choose the lesser of two evils and Hollywood seems to crank out the same, tired crap week after week.

Sure, that whole “free speech” thing is great, I like being able to buy anything 24 hours a day and I’m far too lazy to move. But one thing that constantly gets my goat (again with the goat?) is that it takes years, if it happens at all, for films from Australia and New Zealand to land stateside.

The latest example of offbeat genius to wander across the ocean is “Futile Attraction”. The premise is that a documentary crew is going to film two people who meet on a blind date and see where it goes. The couple’s eccentricities and oddities are but the first level of fun since the film crew has a load of problems of their own to explore. As the couple’s relationship progresses, conflict arises when the producers look to help/hurt the relationship in order to get the kind of film they want.

The comedy in “Futile Attraction” is quirky and a little on the cheesy side but that New Zealand charm makes it all work brilliantly. I watched this on DVD by myself (because no one likes me) and was laughing out loud. I rarely do that without someone else to hear my velvet tones … wow, that reads worse than it sounded in my head.

In any case, one of the many elements I liked is that not only is the main story very funny, one must also take in the background of the scenes – as a lot of little gags and setups play out there in a manner akin to the great “Airplane”. Now, I’m not saying this is quite as funny as one of the all-time classic comedies but it does share some likenesses.

The actors are all terrific, fulfilling the stereotypes one would expect in the kind of low budget documentary the film’s premise demands. They all play it straight, creating this wonderful world of oddball characters. It’s all very reminiscent of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries and if you like those, this is definitely a film for you.

The characters so easily engender themselves to the audience and you can’t help but hope that everything will work out in the end. Their chemistry works fantastically and what could have been a true disaster if the tone wasn’t set right becomes something sublime and heartwarming. Even the ending, which felt a little thrown together, remained true to the same surreal vein of comedy the rest of the film is composed of.

I’m giving “Futile Attraction” a 4 out of 5. I’m saddened that this never got a U.S. theatrical release and can only hope that whatever exposure I can give it will help people discover this hidden gem. (I was able to receive it through the American DVD distributor directly, though you can also find it on the filmmakers’ official web site. I suppose specialty rental stores/sites might also have it but however you have to, it’s worth the effort).