out of Five
Running time: 85
Superbly written, frequently hilarious comedy that marks writer-director Ryan out as a talent to watch.
What’s it all about?
The Magician is a zero budget mockumentary that was a hit with audiences at last year’s Edinburgh Film Festival. Australian writer-director Scott Ryan takes the lead role as Ray Shoesmith, a Melbourne hitman who agrees to be the subject of his neighbour Max’s documentary. However, it’s clear that neither of them are really aware of what they’ve let themselves in for.
The Magician doesn’t really do anything that wasn’t done ten times better by Man Bites Dog. However, this is less about sensationalism and more about the surreal humour in the relationship that develops between Ray’s cocky hit man (who looks like the scrawny lovechild of David Beckham and Willem Dafoe) and foreign film student Max.
The script is genuinely hilarious in places, with several laugh-out-loud scenes. Although the film is ostensibly about Ray, it’s Max who steals the film, despite never appearing on camera. Totti is either genuinely foreign and amusing or is an incredibly gifted comic actor – his innocent, matter-of-fact delivery of the line, Why don’t you lend him your underpants? will have you laughing for days afterwards.
Although the central idea isn’t particularly original, the hilarious interplay between the characters ensures that this is well worth seeing. It’ll be interesting to see what Ryan does next. Highly recommended.