Published Jun 01, 2004Australia's The Rage in Placid Lake is at once a sharp social satire and a quirky coming of age story that's much more complex and interesting than the regular American teen fare. It stars musician Ben Lee in the role of Placid Lake, a bright and colourful perpetual misfit with hopelessly new-age parents (Miranda Richardson and Garry McDonald) who seal his fate early on when they send him to elementary school in a dress to challenge the other children's conventional views of sexuality. After that, Placid is constantly tormented by his schoolmates and counts the days until he can leave them all behind. His only solace is his best friend Gemma (Rose Byrne), a scientific genius and fellow social outcast who also can't wait to escape the horror of high school. An incident at their graduation leaves Placid wanting to reinvent himself as a normal, productive, conformist member of society instead of an oddball and target. He throws himself into his new plan, donning a suit and joining the rat race, much to the horror of his unconventional parents. Even Gemma, suffering a pre-university identity crisis of her own, begins to turn away from him as Placid loses himself to corporate life.
Loosely based on his own stage play The Café Latte Kid, director and writer Tony McNamara crafts an extremely smart and funny film with The Rage in Placid Lake. It deftly manages to successfully portray both the plight of teen alienation and the soul-killing corporate world not exactly new topics with a fresh eye and a light and humorous touch. The characters are engaging and original, and even when their behaviour is over-the-top they possess an emotional honesty that keeps the film grounded. Ben Lee is amazing in the title role, irrepressible and charming, holding his own against an excellent supporting cast of far more experienced actors like Richardson and McDonald. (TVA)