The Pretend One – Film review

tpoShot on the Condamine in Queensland comes a quirky and original film about love and loss. Geraldine Hakewell leads a well-honed cast including seasoned-professional David Field and a comical Michael Whalley.

Told using flashbacks to Charlie’s (Hakewell) childhood, The Pretend One tells of her friendship with Hugo (Whalley). Charlie and Hugo are inseparable ever since Charlie’s mother died when she was a little girl. Lonely and traumatised, Hugo helped a young Charlie cope with the difficult situation.

Hugo is Charlie’s imaginary friend. Her father Roger (David Field) was deeply troubled by the appearance of a young Charlie talking to herself that a psychologist was employed. For her own protection, Hugo became Charlie’s secret from that moment on. Now as adults, their friendship faces a number of hurdles when Charlie begins to falls for Guy, a producer in town to shoot a documentary.

A jealous Hugo decides to man up to turn Charlie’s affections. But he can’t compete with the physical world nor with a job opportunity Guy presents Charlie to go to the city. The idea scares Hugo to the core; if Charlie ever left or forgot him, he would no longer exist.

The chemistry between Hakewell and Whalley is sweet. There are comical moments as Hugo amps up the fact that only Charlie can hear his attempts to sour Guy’s advances towards her. Also funny are the interview subjects for the documentary – local farmers who are asked to describe their ideal woman; some of which will rub #metoo advocates up the wrong way.

The undoubted star of the film is the Queensland landscape; the cinematography is breathtaking. Acres of white cotton flowers contrast with the harsh earthy tones of the farmland, framed by a rusting pick up truck here and robotic-like harvester machinery there.

3.5 stars

Special screenings of The Pretend One start from 14 March around Australia. Check The Pretend One website for details.

About The Pretend One film

Directed by: Tony Prescott
Written by: Tony Prescott and James Raue
Stars: Geraldine Hakewell, Michael Whalley, David Field, Benedict Wall, Fiona Press

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