Love And Other Catastrophes review

A throwaway question (""Which movie did you get that from?"") is posed by Mia's cute, long-suffering girlfriend - - and that's exactly what you'll be wondering all the way through this engaging, energetic Australian flick.

A modern screwball romance set to excite the hearts of movie buffs and aspiring film-makers alike, Love And Other Catastrophes is packed with cinematic and pop-culture references, from Tarantino parodies to Doris Day lyrics. Be warned - if your buffery isn't up to scratch, you may suffer. Indeed, you might walk out at the end of the film thinking it's too clever by half.

But ignore the smart-arsed posturing and irritating cliqueiness and you'll find a fresh and funny triumph over minimal funding. Any "zany" comedy/romance demands a smart-talking chick and a clumsy buffoon of a guy (you can't beat Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn or Rock Hudson/Doris Day for that sparky romantic repartee), but Love And Other Catastrophes twists expectations by offering up a couple who are doomed never to get together at all. Spunky Mia likes other girls, you see (although this is a kissy-kissy friendship rather than full-on Bound-style romping), which leaves bumbling medical-student Michael (Matt Day, the goofy boyfriend in Muriel's Wedding) out in the cold. Other major characters wandering through the story (which is less of a plot and more a series of incidents) include Mia's ex-lover Danni (Radha Mitchell), her frustrated room-mate Alice, and part-time gigolo Ari (Matthew Dyktynski), Alice's potential beau.

If we tell you that Love was made by 23-year-old Emma-Kate Croghan, fresh out of college and inspired by the likes of Clerks, you might get an idea of where it's coming from. Hip, witty and put together on a paltry budget of 30,000 Australian dollars it is, of necessity, full of talk (which, as ever, is cheap), student jokes and light-hearted lovey-dovey stuff.

Love is a funky, if flawed, debut, and quite an achievement for a director so young (with a budget so small). Both Croghan and her stars have great potential.

Another promising Aussie debut, in the quirksome mould of Muriel's Wedding or Strictly Ballroom. With a little more experience and a lot more dosh...

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