PULSE

★★★

AN AMBITIOUS AUSTRALIAN BODY SWAP STORY

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Charlie David Page
4th June 2017

Just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see in cinema, something unique and interesting comes along. That’s very much the case with ‘Pulse’, a new independent Australian film with an ambitious story.

Olly (Daniel Monks) faces the wrath of his school’s bullies not just because of his disability, but also his sexuality. Nevertheless, his best friends, Luke (Scott Lee, ‘Home and Away’) and Nat (Sian Ewers, ‘The Great Mint Swindle’), are there to support him. When Olly gets the chance to undergo a radical new treatment which involves a body transplant, he chooses to inhabit the body of a beautiful young woman. However, it’s not long before Olly’s new appearance affects his personality, and he soon becomes an entirely different person that his family and friends can no longer recognise.

'PULSE' TRAILER

Despite the body swap concept, this story is firmly rooted in reality; as such, the whole procedure is viewed as a medical procedure which keeps the story within the drama genre, and ensures the focus of the film remains on the motivations for the change rather than the methodology. Olly’s disability makes him desperate for a change, but like with so many grass-is-greener stories, it doesn’t make his life better becoming a beautiful female, particularly when he does it for all the wrong reasons. The story emphasises the fact that beauty is only skin deep, cleverly using the filmic technique of showing male Olly in many scenarios where his outward appearance is the female Olivia.

The film is the brainchild of Daniel Monks himself, who has a physical disability. As writer, lead actor and editor, he has clearly brought a lot of himself into the story, one which is clearly important for him to tell, having started writing it in 2009. You’re able to empathise with the character of Olly, but upon becoming Olivia this is more challenging - this is vital to the story, and yet does make the latter portion of the film difficult to stay with.

There’s an ease to the relationships on camera here.

There’s an ease to the relationships on camera here; the interaction between Monks, Lee and Ewers appears as genuine friendship, and Ewers particularly is ineffable. Another effortless performance comes from Caroline Brazier (‘Rake’, ‘Packed to the Rafters’), who plays Olly’s mum, clearly out of her depth with the situation she finds herself in, despite the love she feels for Olly and lack of understanding she receives in return.

This is the feature directorial debut from Stevie Cruz-Martin, a long-time collaborator of Monks’. Also acting as cinematographer, she offers some ambitious techniques for a low-budget film, with the film shot with such a narrow depth of focus. While regularly effective, there are times this becomes distracting and unnecessary.

For a film with so much ambition, the final product must be commended. While there are aspects that aren’t entirely successful, losing affinity for the main character for such a substantial part of the film may be its downfall. Nonetheless, it shows great promise from Monks, Cruz-Martin and the young team, with important messages to impart.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
RELATEDPOP AYENot your normal road trip movie
RELATEDPHANTOM BOYAn affecting animation full of warmth
RELATEDSPOOKERSA real horror show
RELATEDGAME OF DEATHUnoriginal and unexciting
RELATEDINSYRIATEDEscaping war within a personal prison
RELATEDROLLER DREAMSThe retro roots of roller skating
RELATEDGRADUATIONThe role of a parent left unexplored
RELATEDTHE OTHER SIDE OF HOPECharming and poetic
RELATEDWHITNEY: CAN I BE MEAn enthralling, heartbreaking tale
RELATEDTO STAY ALIVE: A METHODThe pain of art
RELATEDMISTER UNIVERSOJoin the circus
RELATEDLIBERATION DAYThe hills of North Korea are alive with the sound of music
RELATEDTHE WOUNDDefining masculinity
RELATED78/52A blow-by-blow account of 'Psycho's' shower scene
RELATEDUNAA dull, banal and woefully misguided male fantasy
RELATEDBRIGSBY BEARPaws-itively pure, authentic joy
RELATEDELLIPSISFails to come full circle
RELATEDAMA-SANDive in to a fascinating tradition
RELATEDLADY MACBETHBeautifully hypnotic and unsettling
RELATEDPARIS CAN WAITFood, France and frivolity
RELATEDNEWTONDark political comedy a winning formula
RELATEDWAITING FOR GIRAFFESA tall order for an impossible zoo
RELATEDSPOORA dark thriller with bite
RELATEDWET WOMAN IN THE WINDA sexy struggle for conquest
RELATEDKING OF THE BELGIANSA royal road trip
RELATEDSAINT GEORGEA knockout lead performance
RELATEDTHAT'S NOT MEA marvel of indie ingenuity
RELATEDLAST MEN IN ALEPPOA heartbreaking, unmissable documentary
RELATEDAFTERIMAGEReality askew
RELATEDTHE WALLGripping but thin
RELATEDTHE PINK HOUSEMeet Kalgoorlie's ladies of the night
RELATEDWIND RIVERLeaves you cold
RELATEDTHE FARTHESTA tribute to Voyager 40 years on
RELATEDBARBECUEGrills run the world
RELATEDA MODERN MANA model life
RELATEDBLADE OF THE IMMORTALA gloriously violent film
RELATEDI AM NOT YOUR NEGROA powerful profile of three influential men
RELATEDPACMENThe rise and fall of Ben Carson
RELATEDPATTI CAKE$Off track
RELATEDCHICKEN PEOPLEThe pecking order in poultry breeding
RELATEDMY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINIA refreshing animation
RELATEDOKJASpectacularly over-the-top
TRENDINGMALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVILDisney still have some magic left in them
TRENDINGNT LIVE: FLEABAGThe birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
TRENDINGBRISBANE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019The Reviews
TRENDINGMIDSOMMAR: THE DIRECTOR'S CUTAri Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
TRENDINGSTRANGE BUT TRUEAll-star cast saves thriller from being a total misfire
TRENDINGPORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIREA perfect film on the language of desire
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us