First off we’d like to thank Tarpaulin for the recommendation. Hadn’t thought of this film for a loooong time…
Malcolm (Colin Friels) is a toddler both emotionally and from a mental maturity standpoint. In one scene he is gifted a brand new television and is more impressed with the robustness of the cardboard box.
Afraid of contact and unaware of social niceties and intimacy, Malcolm lives alone after the death of his Mother in a small suburban home in Melbourne, confining interaction to only absolutely unavoidable situations, and even then conversing in only the most basic, factual sentences.
Malcolm likes things this way. He likes his countless model trains *ahem* trams, his pet parrot and his job at the Melbourne Tram services. He doesn’t need human contact at all.
Then he loses his job.
Without a job Malcolm becomes a shut-in, but a shut-in with no income doesn’t eat. Malcolm doesn’t initially understand this, burying himself in backyard inventions that range from cute to ingenious, but after his remote controlled ‘shopping buddy’ returns home from the local deli with a note saying ‘no more without $’ instead of milk, he is forced to look at other possibilities.
At the behest of the kindly shopkeeper Malcolm advertises for a boarder, which brings Frank (John Hargreaves) – and later his missus Judith (Lindy Davies) – into his life.
Initially all parties have trouble finding their niche and dealing with the others, Frank is rough and ready and doesn’t understand Malcolm’s mental state, nor his meticulous drive and OCD tendencies. Judith often acts as a go-between for the two gents, she loves Frank but also takes a shine to Malcolm and his eccentricities.
As they become accustomed to each other Frank realises that Malcolm is somewhat of an engineering savant, capable of seeing possibilities with steel, wire and spare parts that few others can comprehend.
Malcolm in turn is fascinated to learn that Frank has only been recently released from prison for robbing banks. Malcolm is intrigued by the mechanics of such a job – not the ethics or legality – which gives both men inspiration, and Judith frustration and dilemma.
The unlikely ‘crew’ start with some ‘live’ practise runs which necessitate some amazingly creative inventions and entertaining getaways. These all build up to the big one, which entails remote controlled vehicles, ashtrays, clown heads, rubber gloves, Ned Kelly in a wheelchair and an ice-cream van.
What were you expecting?
The small cast is excellent, Friels as Malcolm especially, he manages to underplay the vulnerability and eccentricity of the character so that he doesn’t become a cliché or a cartoon. The story remains simple also, which breathes life into the sequences where the inventions and escape plans can take centre stage.
If the heist itself sounds strange and delightful the getaway is even more so, and in fact if you can ignore the legal ramifications the entire Malcolm experience will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. Malcolm might sound like just another I Am Sam, Rain Man clone, but it is entirely different to both and deserves to stand alone in its own right. Malcolm might be hard to track down, but it leaves an indelible impression and is worth finding.