Keeva Stratton,Quip Creative
Directed By: Pene Patrick
Starring: Shane Connor
Tony Hobbs (Jared Daperis) is a young man who faces some very serious challenges. As a teenager battling to get by, his working class world is made ever more difficult by having lost his father, as well as living with a mother who suffers from the debilitating effects of Multiple Sclerosis, who works night shifts to keep the family afloat – not to mention caring for his baby brother Charlie, whom he must look after at night so his mum can work.
What he has and what keeps him going is a love of Rugby Union. When Tony gets the rare opportunity to try out for the state side, the reality of his circumstances and his responsibilities come crashing home, which threatens to ruin his only chance for rising above these limitations.
Tony’s relationship with his mother Paula (Jodie Rimmer) is truly heartwarming, but her physical battle with MS and her financial battle to keep the household running means that she is wary of giving her son false hopes, and hence she actively deters him from following his rugby dream. Supporting him in his quest, however, is his school coach Ruddock (Shane Connor), who, having recognised Tony’s ability, tries to be encouraging – but at the same time he is all to aware of Tony’s circumstances and is hesitant to build dreams that Tony may not be able to practically realise. The other friend in Tony’s life is his half-brother Scarf, a well meaning but underhanded character who assists Tony by stealing for him, and who later threatens everything when he tries to involve Tony in his underworld business.
While the plot centres on Rugby, this is thankfully not a ‘footy’ film, but rather a heartwarming, and indeed heartbreaking, depiction of the depth of challenges faced by struggling Aussie families. When Tony attends his first training session accompanied by Charlie in his pram, only to be greeted by the hardline state coach who questions whether, at sixteen, the child is Tony’s, you’re taken head on into his daily conundrum between his want and need to be a teenager playing sport and his obligation to his brother who can’t be left unattended.
Tony’s composure is admirable and the warmth Daperis injects into the role is at times quite beautiful. This is a film that captures the tale of a struggling family with dignity. It shows the myriad of challenges that persist in the aftermath of misfortune, and how, through kindness, you can overcome these obstacles. At times it is sad, but there is something truly uplifting about this story, and above all, it is a wonderful Australian piece. While Playing for Charlie may at times give you a sense of overwhelming helplessness it will also leave you with some belief in the persistence of human nature and the ability of love to give hope to a seemingly bleak situation.
Available on DVD now. Read our interview with Director Pene Patrick.
Category: Film & TV