I put on Two Hands last night, Gregor Jordan’s first feature that debuted on the cusp of Y2K and features an all-star Aussie-cast of Heath Ledger, Bryan Brown and Rose Byrne. The film is cleverly conceived; full of fast cuts, eye-popping visuals and thick native jargon. Jordan’s debut breaks from the pack of Australia's top shelf cinema. Set in the heart of Sydney, its most cosmopolitan city, it pokes fun at a cast of characters that populate its underbelly.
Inspired by Hollywood contemporaries, Jordan incorporates many flashy techniques and choices to help the local narrative reach the wider world. While the inciting incident demands a pretty heavy suspension of disbelief, it rewards you for taking the bait and offers a pretty accurate portrayal of our dinky-di demeanour.
Bryan Brown is exceptional at bringing this laidback sensibility to life through the character of Pando, the unassuming godfather of Kings Cross. While he holds a fearful reputation in the red light district, he comes off as a pretty decent bloke that hates having to show no mercy. There's a great moonlit scene in the middle of the bush as Pando and his goons prepare to execute a flailing Ledger for his stupidity. As Ledger begs for his life, Pando complains that the last time he let a poor sap off the chopping block, they went crying to the authorities. (Lucky for Pando, the silly bastard cried wolf to a copper on his payroll.)
While I didn't feel the film gave Ledger and Byrne — the love birds — enough room to really let their talents breathe, you can see the promise in their eyes. The film went on to enjoy a world premiere at Sundance and ultimately won over people's pockets at the box office. Two Hands was the start of a very successful career for Jordan who went on to direct Buffalo Soldiers & Ned Kelly before branching into various other high-calibre film and television projects.
As the film is set to celebrate its twentieth anniversary next year, it brings about a sense of nostalgia. The film features so many real locations from my childhood. Memories of tacky flip-phones and a red light district that was once vibrant and full of mystery. Public transportation that once kept the great city of Sydney humming now decommissioned, banished to the archives of history.