The Combination

Directed by David Field, The Combination tells the story of a group of Lebanese people living in Sydney. Specifically John, recently out of jail and his little brother Charlie. Early on John falls in love with a white girl named Sydney, while his brother and his group of friends are breaking into drug dealing.

The relationship between John and Sydney is confusing to grasp at first. The first scene we see of them after their initial meeting is on a date at the gym where John works, which ends badly. The next time they are seen everything appears fine as John picks Sydney up at her house for another date. Several of their scenes start out this way where they are having a good time and by the end the feeling between them will be so cold. Another example is when Sydney meets Charlie for the first time and John stops him and his friends from going to “bash” Scott. This ends with her slamming the car door and her front door after being dropped home and once again everything between them is fine in the next scene. These conflicts are never really resolved they just make up somehow.

Unresolved conflicts are not exclusive to their relationship either. In one scene one of Charlies friends, Yas stabs a person and they are all caught by the police. As the film goes on the next day he is back in school, with no resolution to what happened. I was thinking he would be arrested or put in a juvenile center, but it seems there was no punishment at all for the stabbing.

Music is one of the first things I noticed about this film, being that it was too loud and I was not able to hear some of the dialogue. This only happened with the rap music so I’m unsure at this point if it was purposely loud to display a point or if it was the audio equipment in the cinema. Rap music was also seemingly used to fuel the younger groups. It is shown that both the Lebanese and Australian highschool boys listen to the same type of rap music and this was emphasised with the use of two identical shots of the boy’s backs, panning up to their heads while listening to the music.

The film appears to have a chromatic grey wash over it, taking out vibrant colours and creating a rather desolate world. The same thing was applied to Rabbit Proof Fence to create a hellish and unpleasent feeling. In this film it is also used to blur the line between right and wrong, creating a literal grey area for the characters to inhabit.

The theme of racism is painfully clear and hit quite close to home. I live in Western Sydney and grew up around the kinds of people that the characters represent and throughout highschool especially, the gaping racial divide was particularly clear. Generally Australian soceity considers our country exceptionally multicultural and not racist, but this film depicts nothing but the truth. In fact it probably only depicts the tip of the ice berg. Australian soceity is full of closest racists who wont even admit it to themselves. This film shows that through the attitude of Sydney’s parents.

The film has a strong sense of realism. The only time I even noticed the camera were the afformentioned shots of the two boys listening to rap music. Otherwise this flm is a fantastic example of contemporary realism.

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March 10, 2009. Contemporary.

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