Edward and Isabella
Edward and Isabella is Adam's first feature film starring Chloe Hurst ("The Nice Guys" with Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling and "I Feel Pretty" with Amy Schumer).
Edward and Isabella has won Best Film at the WA Screen Culture Awards 2021.
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Edward and Isabella Review from Cinephile
Jean-Paul Sartre famously said “Hell is other people” but then again Barbra Streisand reckoned “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world”. Most of us spend our lives strung out between these two seemingly irreconcilable points of view. Edward (Daniel Barwick) and Isabella (Chloe Hunt) are two such specimens in Adam Morris’s up-close-and-personal portrait of a relationship which is feeling the strain of familiarity.
The thirty-something Perth couple have gone to Isabella’s father’s country house near Albany on the Southern Coast of Western Australia in order to spend some quality time together and, though it is not articulated as such, evaluate their commitment to the long haul.
Despite the film’s title Isabella is the film’s principal focus as it switches between her and Edward’s interactions and ongoing counselling sessions in which she struggles to give words to her feelings to an unseen psychologist. Some may consider this device a bit of a cheat but Morris doesn’t use it as an easy get-out to well-written, thoughtful dialogue but rather uses it a kind of meta-narrative marker for the more ad hoc exchanges between the couple.
The road trip/vacation is a well-established metaphoric strategy for placing characters outside their day-to-day routine, the exploration of the unfamiliar in the external world having its inner equivalences. Watching Edward and Isabella I couldn’t help but be reminded of Roberto Rossellini’s Journey In Italy (1952) and Antonioni’s L’avventura (1960) not to mention, albeit to a lesser extent Alexander Payne’s Sideways (2004). Which is not to say that there are overt resemblances here but rather that whilst Morris’s screenplay is palpably Australian in ethos, it is built on foundations which are universal.
If Morris’s script is persuasive in depicting the couple’s relationship, the film’s other strong hand is the performances by Barwick and Hurst. I don’t know if they were an item before they started filming but the easy intimacy they generate is thoroughly convincing.
The use of music is an asset. Not only is the score by Jonathan Jie Hong Yang nicely understated but impressive use is made of the incidental songs including an attractively melancholic gipsy swing number that book-ends the film, marvellous use is made of Verdi with Morris himself contributing his own tasty rendition of the blues classic 'Wang Dang Doodle (All Night Long)' which is cheekily inserted into the film's diegesis.
If writer-director Morris is evidently more developed as a verbal rather than a visual artist Edward and Isabella is still a commendable and engaging first foray into film.