Young Odessa

Talk about a mutual admiration society. Writing in the Oz, venerable reviewer/’The Movie Show’ host David Stratton opined, ‘I don’t usually like to make predictions…But for once I’ll stick my neck out…Odessa Young will be an international star.’ On radio, during an interview for the ABC, the tender-yeared Ms Young told of her time at the Venice and Toronto film festivals last year. She reflected on the fact that she met and chatted with some of the world’s best known film celebrities, but when Stratton approached her she became tongue-tied in awe. Here, in real life, was the man she grew up with during her fixation on hearing his opinion on the latest of moving-picture releases.


Attending two film festivals with her first two movies – what an amazing experience for a mere seventeen year-old. But the actress is no ingenue when it comes to acting. She has had a long apprenticeship in the television industry, most notably as a lead in Auntie’s adaptation, for teens, of ‘My Place’.

The two local products being showcased at the aforementioned exotic locales were both competently made – one considerably more worthy of a film festival than the other, in this humble scribe’s view.

The lesser offering was ‘Looking for Grace’, the better ‘Daughter’. In both Odessa Y could be said to have upstaged more seasoned old hands, such as Richard Roxburgh, Radha Mitchell and Terry Norris in the former. In the latter there was an even more stellar cast including Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill and Miranda Otto. But whether she’ll be our next Nicole Kidman/Cate Blanchett remains to be seen. But she’s certainly off to a flyer.


Sadly, neither of her newly released vehicles seem to be setting the world alight at the box office, although ‘Daughter’ is still in the cinemas and may pick up through word of mouth. It would be a pity for it to not get the bums on seats it deserves.

‘Looking for Grace’ came to us from Sue Brooks, who presented with the marvellous ‘Japanese Story’ back in ’03 – still one of my favs of the local product. Paul Byrnes, Age film critic, awarded ‘Looking for Grace’ a high rating of 4.5 stars, claiming it was as good, if not better, than ‘JS’. Wrong Paul. ‘Looking for Grace’ isn’t within a bull’s roar. Saying that, it was watchable and did have its moments of pleasure – Roxburgh doing his almost, by now, compulsory rumpled/addled shtick, as well as when Norris was on screen. But it lacked the magic ingredient of ‘Japanese Story’ that audiences responded to. It lacked heart. Still, it was Young’s debut and if Stratton is correct about her, that may be enough for it to be remembered and revisited.

‘Daughter’, on the other hand, is a different beast entirely. Novice director Simon Stone, as the great David S also predicts, is destined for greater glory based on the quality of this offering. It’s very much an Aussie take on Scandi-noir – chilly landscapes and life-battered characters. And it’s based on Norwegian playwright Ibsen’s ‘Wild Duck’ – somewhat loosely. The drama is taught, tight and bleak. In a high country timber town, populated by brittle denizens, the local saw mill closing down impacts majorly. As well, some are carrying deep, dark secrets that come to the fore when wretchedly self-centred and alcoholic Christian (Paul Schneider) returns to Oz to attend the wedding of the town squire (Rush). His bride is a much younger woman, his former housekeeper in fact. It’s an engaging turn from Anna Torv. His arrival sets in motion a series of revelations that will tear lives asunder. The climax is almost unwatchable; the ending not at all happy-ever-afters, nor are strands tied up neatly in a bow. This, though, unlike ‘Looking for Grace’, will stay with the viewer.


So David Stratton and I will watch Ms Young’s future career with much interest. I suspect he’s right. Obviously he’s made a mark by being mostly right about such matters. And she is very at ease on the big screen, with her performances, particularly in ‘Daughter’, very brave. Worth seeing the movie for that alone. And she is still so very, well, young. If ‘Daughter’ does go the way of ‘Looking for Grace’ maybe Hollywood will come calling and will place her in something to make the wider world sit up and take notice. Odessa Young is the future.

Trailer -‘ Looking for Grace’ =

Trailer – ‘Daughter’ =

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