Australia, 2002, 105 minutes, Colour.
Gary Sweet, Helen Buday, Bogdan Koca.
Directed by Rolf de Heer.
Alexandra's Project is describes as a psychosexual thriller about the politics of sex and marriage. It is a striking, even alarming film.
Gary Sweet represents the average Australian male, the average Australian husband. He is committed to his marriage, has an eye for the ladies, is ambitious in his work, loves his family. However, he is presented as chauvinist and taking his wife for granted. Helen Buday (Mad Max 3, For Love Alone) is the wife.
The film shows the wife, Alexandra, attacking her husband, humiliating him, showing him a video of himself and herself, especially in a sexual relationship with the neighbour. The husband is absolutely bewildered. The wife is trying to make the point that he is absolutely chauvinist, has no sensitivity towards her and that she is wreaking a revenge, asserting herself. She asserts herself as a woman, as a sexual being. Some of the material in her video is rather explicit.
Depending on one's point of view, one can feel sorry for the wife, being taken for granted for many years. However, one can also sympathise with the bewildered husband, his lack of comprehension about his chauvinism, but the absolute punishment that is wreaked on him, her leaving and taking the child with her with no contact for the future. Bogdan Koca portrays the neighbour - who, at the end, gives at least some possibility for hope for the husband.
The film was written and directed by Rolf de Heer, who during the 1990s emerged as one of Australia's top directors with such films as Dingo, Bad Boy Bubby (for which he won the AFI Best Director award), Epsilon, The Quiet Room, Dance Me To Your Song, The Tracker. Gary Sweet also appeared for de Heer in The Tracker.
1. The impact of the film, strong, challenging? The topic and themes, the treatment, the shock value?
2. The opening, suburbia, the street, the lawns? The overtones of films like Blue Velvet with the very neat surfaces and the sinister dark side? Workplace, offices? Ordinary - yet the need for security?
3. The camera, editing, the video, sounds and images, the musical score?
4. The title, the coldness of the tone with the use of the word "project"? Audience expectations? Meeting Alexandra, getting to know her better, being shocked and challenged?
5. The opening of the film: the house, waking up, Steve and his ordinariness, the birthday, the presents, the kids, Alexandra and her attitudes, his puzzle, her spitting?
6. Getting ready for the day, breakfast, the paper, the paying of the bills, Steve not listening to Alexandra, the comments on the kids, watering the lawn, the insults, security, profit?
7. The workplace, the secretary, the boardroom, the cake, appointments, phoning Alexandra, promotion work, the photos, going home? An ordinary day that audiences could identify with?
8. Steve, audience sympathy for him, the kids, sensitive issues, but_?
9. Alexandra and her tension, moods, the bills, her being disregarded, the children and the personalities? Their relationship to their father? The change, the taxi, the video?
10. Steve and his arriving home, the doors locked, the lights, the phone, the security? The video camera?
11. The effect on him, his thinking it was an ordinary night, his birthday, the striptease, the music? His becoming scared, shocked? Cancer, mad? The hand, the explanation of her body? Male sexuality, female sexuality? Sexual symbols, cucumber, vibrator? His past and his not listening, his pleas to Alexandra?
12. Alexandra, the continuing of the mood, her project, the revelation of how much she had planned, her talking to Steve, her relationship with the children, her plans for them? The striptease and its effect, the explanation of the body, her breasts? The use of the body, her permitting others to use the body? The bluntness? The cancer story, sexuality and choice, the neighbour, her taking money?
13. The interruption, the beers, the remote? Her leaving?
14. Steve, his being by himself, the humiliation, his weeping, his trying to understand? The continuing of the video, Alexandra and her leading him through the various sections? The final humiliation?
15. Alexandra, her self-assertion, years of humiliation and it being ignored? The way that she asserted herself, the sexuality, the neighbour, her sensuality, the stripping and the body? Her taking the children, her disappearing, her final malicious attack on Steve and preventing him from knowing where she and the children were?
16. Steve, the final desperation? The neighbour and his coming in, his talking about the relationship with Alexandra? A possibility for Steve to find the children or not?
17. The neighbour, his personality, the audience seeing him first in the videos, his seeming to use Alexandra, her seduction of him? An ordinary man, his coming to talk with Steve?
18. The film as a psychodrama, for the characters, the interactions, the depths of the exploration of relationships, commitment and marriage? A psychodrama for the audience to participate in, emotionally, intellectually?