One of my favourite television shows to ever air was The Secret Life Of Us. Prior to it airing in the late 90s most of the television shows that I had watched had been either sci-fi/fantasy or about people in jobs that I couldn’t relate to – police officers, fire fighters, pilots etc.
But then came The Secret Life Of Us a show about a group of people that were, well, like my friends and I. They lived in Melbourne, had no special abilities, and faced everyday things like crushes, heartbreak, mundane jobs, housemate issues and the ever-present fear of being too short of cash to pay the rent. I felt at home watching it because I could relate to it, and that feeling recently returned when I sat down to watch Evicted! A Modern Romance.
The film centres around hour housemates living in Sydney. There is the recently unemployed Maggie (Amanda Maple-Brown), on-again off-again couple Isabelle (Rose Haining) and May (Clare Cavanagh), and gig-worker Will (William Suen). Apart from Maggie and Will liking to crash in front of the same old-style ninja TV show, they all live their own lives, however those lives are thrown into turmoil when they are suddenly evicted from their rental property.
At first, they believe it will be easy to find a new home, but they soon realise that the Sydney rental market is not like it used to be. Most homes are unsuitable or out of their price range, and meanwhile each of the housemates find themselves thrust into some interesting situations and positions in their day-to-day lives, which make the search even more important yet difficult.
Directed and written by Rowan Devereux, Evicted! A Modern Romance has a wit and charm to it that so many movies these days seem to lack. The screenplay allows the film to go into some pretty deep territory as it explores the seriousness of the Australian housing issue, unemployment and what it feels like to have invested in a loveless relationship. Despite Evicted! A Modern Romance’s depth, Devereux allows the film to also have a playful charm and wit that doesn’t get in the way of the story, and instead enhances it.
The film’s biggest weakness is probably that it is overly long, but I found that I was willing to overlook this as the film allowed me dive deep into the lives of the characters that I was watching. I found myself drawn into the more serious scenes between Isabelle and May, and then at the next moment, I was laughing at the characters that are there for comedic relief, like Marcus (James Fraser). Few films have the power to mix drama and comedy together so well, and Devereux needs to be congratulated for that.
The screenplay also allows its cast to shine. Rose Haining impresses as the pained Isabelle while Amanda Maple-Brown reveals herself to be a future Australian cinema star, and I have no doubt that she is someone that Hollywood will soon beckon to. I also loved William Suen who shows that he is an actor who can handle both dramatic and comedic scenes equally and I hope to see more of him on the big screen soon.
I found Evicted! A Modern Romance to have the right mix of quirkiness and drama. Often these kinds of films can go too far one way or the other, but the result here suggests that Rowan Devereux is going to become a very important director and screenwriter in the Australian film industry. This is a must-see for those that enjoy good Australian cinema.
Evicted! A Modern Romance is screening as part of the 2022 Sydney Film Festival.
For more information and ticketing, visit: https://www.sff.org.au/program/browse/evicted-a-modern-romance