Anmol Mishra’s Romancing Sydney follows Sachin (Anmol Mishra) and Elisa (Susanne Richter) through their blossoming relationship, while also touching on the lives of Lilli (Gabrielle Chan) and George (Peter Hayes), Sachin’s boss and co-worker, respectively, and gay couple Zac (Brendon Wong) and Alex (Connor Dowling). Sachin and Elisa first meet after some individual misfortune leads them to one another, and their relationship grows from there. Lilli is the dominating boss that George admires, though he’s hiding behind the guise of misogynistic ladies man. Alex and Zac want to marry, but they’ll have to leave Australia to do so. Oh, and Zac is a pretty big a*****e to Sachin, pretty much all the time.
At least that’s the broad strokes of it. The truth is, the film is often a muddled mess. It is clear that the filmmakers know cinema and their craft enough to want to try numerous ideas out, but that doesn’t mean they are successful most of the time. For example, there’s a sequence where Sachin, Elisa, Zac and Alex all share a meal that utilizes a camera move. In and of itself, not a bad idea. However, in execution here, the move, coupled with a change in direction, coupled with how the sequence is cut, gives the impression of a camera that is moving all over for the sake of movement, with no real purpose other than to confuse or distract.
Additionally, the audio quality is often lacking. While in some cases the audio problems simply cause you to miss a statement, or cause a performance to appear of an even lesser quality than it is, in at least one major instance at the film’s climax, it completely undermines the power of the sequence. A moment that is supposed to tragically dramatic instead becomes, “wait, what are they saying?”
From a character development situation, the only ones that seem to actually charm are Lilli and George, and their relationship is more comical in nature, but works the best overall. Sachin and Elisa feel forced, even though they’re our main romantic focus, and while Zac and Alex work well together, the portrayal of Zac as a raging d******d in almost every other sequence makes one less interested in them finding happiness.
Narratively, I think the film tried for something bold as far as karma goes, and sets up a tragedy for the flawed Sachin that would work better if the rest of the elements surrounding it were up to snuff. Again, when the technical isn’t causing trouble, the performances are stumbling or forced, or the ambitious attempts at camera movement or stylistic editing fall flat. The fantasy sequences of Sachin and Elisa dancing are solid, but not as a representation of the characters’ feelings or as an editorial device to connect sequences; it’s just good dancing, and could standalone as a performance regardless.
In the end, while I found Romancing Sydney to be a flawed endeavor in almost every direction, I do believe that credit is due the filmmakers for the attempt. They simply allowed their ambitions to get the better of their talent and resources, at least at this stage in their careers. I don’t think this is a case where there’s a good movie hidden in this muddle, but I do think that these filmmakers are capable of something much better than was presented here, given more time and experience. The intentions, and artistic ideas and elements, are sound, the execution just needs to catch up.
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