“Swerve”, I believe, was the only Australian film that I saw at this year’s MIFF and at the end of the day, it is a good time waster, nothing more nothing less. The film is basically a neo-noir where a guy from out-of-town stumbles across the scene of a fatal automobile accident where he finds a suitcase full of cash. Being the honest guy that he is, he hands the suitcase in to the police at the nearest town. Unfortunately for him, it is also the same town where the money was initially meant to be dropped off at, and the people involved want their money back.
Thus it starts in motion all of the usual noir trappings, like femme fatales, back-stabbings, people not being who they originally seemed, and the staple of the genre, the poor innocent stranger caught in the middle and mixed up in everything. Like the best films of the genre, “Swerve” works so much better, the less you know about it, so I will go little into the whole plot and leave all the twists and turns to be experienced unspoiled. It ticks all the boxes, and is actually quite enjoyable in the turn-off-your-brain-and-enjoy kind of way, but the sheer ridiculousness of the plot stops it from being taken seriously at any point.
However the film is well shot by cinematographer David Foreman and it is a technically well made film, it is just a shame that more time wasn’t spent on the script to make it more believable. Also dialogue wise, there are a couple of groan inducing lines within. In terms of acting, it is all a bit hit or miss, with no one being terrible, but some of the characters (the policeman especially) seem to drift into caricature. Jason Clarke as the stranger in town comes out the best and is actually quite a charismatic lead.
Overall, this was an enjoyable film that was good to waste an hour and a half with. It was a good change of pace from the types of films I had been seeing at MIFF, which was nice to just sit back and enjoy a film, instead of paying attention to every little detail (well, that sounded like a backhanded compliment, didn’t it?). “Swerve” is technically proficient, while being a little weak in the script department, but this is still a good debut from first time director Craig Lahiff.