The first new Australian drama for 2019 is a treat.
Bloom takes its time to wash over you, but it does so with quiet awe, a nod to the past, and moodily arouses your senses.
While the opening scenes of a small-town flood result in the deaths of 5 locals, they are arresting enough to put the viewer on notice: this show means business.
Jacki Weaver stars as Gwendolyn Reed, a faded actress now suffering Alzehimer’s Disease. Dotted around her crumbling home are memorabilia, photos, even an old Logie trophy. Husband Ray (Bryan Brown) has done his best to care for his wife, but a year after the flood she now resides in a nursing home.
Meanwhile the town of Mullan is also the public stage for wild boy Sam (Ryan Corr) to impulsively strip off and run nekkid down the main street, before anonymous sex with the local baker, Tina (Nikki Shiels). Later he encounters a very determined 12 year old Isaac (Thomas Fisher) whose mother went “missing” in the flood.
But the biggest dramatic hook from writer Glen Dolman is left in the form of a small berry which has sprung to life, an elixir which miraculously restores youth. Suddenly lives are transformed, consequences are negated and the impossible becomes real…
“There are no consequences good or bad, doesn’t matter what you do,” says Sam. “There’s no karma, no giant lightning bolt. Zip. You can do anything you want.”
This life force will ripple through the town in ways more seismic than flood waters, including for farmer Max (John Stanton) who is facing eviction from the banks, but who is inextricably linked to Gwen and Ray.
The relationships crafted by Dolman in his high-concept tale are matched at every step: casting, direction, performances, photography and music.
Jacki Weaver, Bryan Brown and John Stanton bring gravitas to a landscape too-often distracted by pretty young faces. And it doesn’t stop there. There are supporting roles and cameos from Rod Mullinar, Terry Norris, Anne Charleston and Maria Mercedes.
While Dolman toys with mystery and hypothetical questions, director John Curran pierces the screen with a bold fusion of evocative shots, CGI and use of music. Never has the Mexican national anthem been so creatively juxtaposed in an Australian drama, or wild sex been waged over custard pies. It’s this kind of individuality that makes Bloom blossom…
There are also dark comedic moments, notably aligned with the energetic “Yeah, nah” performance of Ryan Corr. Phoebe Tonkin adopts a kind of muse-like role to great effect, although a totes-awks sex scene in episode 2 is risky in this age of #metoo.
Nevertheless this brash, colloquial drama has me hooked and it will for you too.
Bloom begins Tuesday January 1 on Stan.