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Somersault (A Movie Review)

Updated: Aug 6, 2023


Starring Abbie Cornish, Sam Worthington, Lynette Curran, Erik Thomson, Hollie Andrew, Leah Purcell, Nathaniel Dean, Olivia Pigeot, Damian de Montemas, John Sheerin, Anne Louise Lambert, Paul Gleeson, Blake Pittman, Justin Martin and Ben Tate.

Screenplay by Cate Shortland.

Directed by Cate Shortland.

Distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 106 minutes. Rated R.

The teen years are a minefield, full of real and imagined slights and tragedies, desperate experimentation, and tentative and often wrong turns to adulthood.

Somersault is an Australian import which was named Best Picture in the Aussie equivalent of the Oscars, but it is nothing like an American prestige film -- it is quiet, considered, sad and, in the end, quite hopeful.

Abbie Cornish plays Heidi, a young girl who has to leave home when her mother catches her in bed with the mother's boyfriend. With no place to go, Heidi ends up in a little lake resort looking to meet a man (apparently married, it turns out) that she met once at a party.

Heidi has a raw jailbait quality, and she is spectacularly insecure. She has come to realize that men are responding to her ripening sexuality, and she grasps at this appreciation hungrily, throwing herself into poorly considered relationships with anyone who will pay any attention to her at all.

Heidi meets a local guy (Sam Worthington) who she imagines might become her great love, though he at first appears a bit standoffish and he seems to be unsure about some homosexual thoughts he has been having. Heidi also craves her first relationship with a female and finds that possibility when she gets a job at a mini market and meets another cashier (Hollie Andrew) – basically Heidi is just looking for a friend, however there is just a hint of a girl crush there as well.

Heidi throws herself deeper and deeper into the relationships, but nothing turns out as she hopes. She grasps for meaning with more and more despair, until eventually she is set back on the right track by a kindly hotel owner (Lynette Curran).

Somersault is occasionally tough to watch with the degradations which Heidi will subject herself to, but Cornish makes her neuroses and insecurity somewhat touching. She is basically a good girl, and we are pulling for her to find her way. (4/06)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2006 All rights reserved. Posted: April 8, 2006.

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