In 2001, out-of-work actor Garth Petridis was at the end of his rope after many years of rejection in the acting world. He went through just about every change possible to suit the casting agents but ultimately they wanted a name actor and he had all the skills but not the household name. In a moment of desperation Garth decided that crime was his last resort in order to become a household name. Garth began kidnapping members of the Australian public and forced them to perform in his movie at gun point. Garth chronicled his whole journey in a series of home movies.
Garth Petridis was caught and eventually released from jail after serving his time. Upon release Garth contacted Melbourne based filmmaker Gregory Pakis to make a movie about him. The Garth Method is a combination of Garth’s real footage from 2001 and a re-creation of his life prior to his bizarre crimes as a struggling actor.
The story of Garth Petridis (played by Garth himself) begins sometime before his criminal exploits. With dreams of becoming a famous actor and as he puts it “I can see myself up on-screen in a black tuxedo, kissing Claire Danes on a moonlit balcony”, Garth is very naïve and does not seem to be able to earn the respect of anyone – not even his parents who don’t support his acting aspirations. Garth has to constantly suffer with let down after let down. His agent tells him he’s not sexy and too much of a geek! So Garth begins his first transformation which doesn’t exactly work out to plan as soon as he would like. Garth goes through the process of an image change to make himself sexier. Then the casting agents want him to be tougher so he enlists in the army to prepare for a role he may not even get. Garth is a truly inspired performer who puts himself through so many transformations that he ought to get an A+ for effort. Garth soon discovers that no matter how much he tries to tailor himself to fit everybody’s personal taste, in the end he is Garth Petridis and no one knows who he is. Garth finds it hard to come to terms with the acting world as he discovers that acting talent doesn’t win him roles with casting agents.
The Garth character goes through many modifications throughout the film in accordance with his various image and attitude changes. He begins as an innocent dreamer who is unlucky with almost everything. He then finds a little more confidence when he cracks the proverbial womanizing nut. The transitions are realistic both in terms of being a struggling actor and I guess on a simpler level, the stages of getting older in life. Garth’s first obstacle is to outgrow his sheltered Greek upbringing and be a man! The acting is superb by Petridis who really digs deep into every different version of himself and in many ways is playing at least four different characters in the film, because Garth at the beginning to Garth at the end of the film are two totally different people. What Garth struggles to understand is that acting a part is not about being that part in reality. For every different role he auditions for, he attempts to become that character in his own life which is firstly life imitating art and if he gets the part it is thrown into reverse. He ultimately suffers from one big identity crisis.
The story is told in the form of a tragic comedy and there are plenty of honest laughs in the film, especially between Garth and his two friends Stan and Dale, one a writer and the other an experimental filmmaker who makes films about car parks and fridges. Dale doesn’t have a part for Garth in his movies because he doesn’t use actors. Clearly a lot of work was put into the development of all of the characters. Usually when there is a film where the title character plays him or herself (like Howard Stern did for his film), it is often hard to raise the supporting actors to the same believable standard, however Pakis really makes each actor become the characters from Garth’s life. You can either appreciate the film as a documentary or as a narrative because it has both elements that work together hand in hand.
This is a solid film from Gregory Pakis and combines both the re-created B&W Super-16 footage with Garth’s home video diaries. The Garth Method flies high and all of the performances are exceptional with no actor weighing the film down. A perfectly written screenplay which really captures the emotional distress of almost every failed or struggling actor. Aspiring actors will be able to relate to the Garth character and only such people will be able to understand his motives entirely when he ultimately turns to crime to get his name out there. Petridis reminds me a lot of a young Al Pacino from “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975) or even Robert De Niro from “The King of Comedy” (1983) as he is essentially a nice guy thrown into unlawful circumstances which is all due to extreme anxiety and desperation at the prospect of never fulfilling the dream that is more than just a big part of life …it is his life! A solid movie that has a very big heart and plenty of fortitude!