[Screen It]


(1996) (Miranda Otto, Rebecca Frith) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild *Minor Moderate None None
Minor None None Mild *Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Minor Minor Mild *Moderate

Comedy/Drama: Two lonely sisters compete for the affection of a radio DJ who moves in next door to them.
Dimity (MIRANDA OTTO) and Vicki-Ann Hurley (REBECCA FRITH) are adult sisters in the blue-collar town of Sunray, Australia. While Vicki-Ann is a hairstylist at the local beauty salon, Dimity is the sole waitress in the town's only Chinese restaurant that's owned by Albert Lee (JOHN ALANSU), a man who practices nudism at home, but not at work. Both sisters are romantics at heart, and while Vicki-Ann was once engaged, Dimity has never even kissed a man. Things change for them when a famous radio DJ arrives in town and moves in next door to the women. Ken Sherry (GEORGE SHEVTSOV) is looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, and in his mid-forties and having just gone through his third divorce, he's looking for a quiet place where he can fade into the woodwork and play his arrangement of old 70's tunes. Vicki-Ann immediately falls for him and starts delivering casseroles to his front door, thinking the best way to his heart is through his stomach. Dimity, who's normally shy and reserved, suddenly gets a different idea, and although still a virgin, decides to sleep with him. Happy in thinking that she now has a boyfriend, Dimity alienates Vicki-Ann, and amuses Ken who knows he's just getting free sex, although he does try to teach her a thing or two about love. After Vicki-Ann turns the tables, however, and also sleeps with Ken, the two sisters must figure out how to deal with each other and with Ken.
Younger kids won't, and older teens are questionable.
For some sexuality.
  • MIRANDA OTTO plays a shy and reserved woman who, until the story begins, has never even kissed a man. Mysteriously attracted to Ken, she decides to sleep with him and then confuses sex with love. Finally, her violent solution to the sisters' problem makes her a bad role model.
  • REBECCA FRITH plays the older sister who quickly and blindly falls in love, and also sleeps with Ken, mainly as revenge for her younger sister previously doing the same.
  • GEORGE SHEVTSOV plays the swinging radio DJ who sleeps with both women, and despite telling them that he's no good for them, continues to do so.


    OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
    A strange, low budget and small scale film, "Love Serenade" features a fine performance from newcomer Miranda Otto, but ultimately fails to be the clever movie it tries to be. While it's certainly different from most films you'll see, it's slow pace and lack of real plot development hinder its possibilities. While amusing at first, the 70's soundtrack wears thin after a while (maybe I have a threshold for Barry White music) and the rest of the film's situations are slightly humorous, but not overly inventive or imaginative. The strangest part of the film is the symbolic visualization that Ken might not be a human after all. Several scenes show him having gills (ie. He's as cold as a fish in his treatment of the sisters, and there are references to love being caged up like a fish in a tank), and while initially strange and a little amusing, these scenes just get weirder as time passes by, especially at the very end. Sure it's symbolic and it's how Dimity finally sees Kens' true nature, but it's too bizarre and jolting for the rest of the film. Much more stable and enjoyable to watch is Otto's performance. Her take on the shy, but wanting to break free young woman is right on the nose, from her vocal delivery to her body gestures and movement. We expect to see a great deal more from this young actress. Frith and Shevtsov are fine in their roles and competently deliver what's expected of them, and Alansu delivers some comic relief, but after we're told that he's a practicing nudist, you expect to see some funny scenes, but instead we only get one brief, non-amusing one. Unfortunately, the script eventually lets everyone down, as not enough plot and/or character development takes place that would have made this a much more enjoyable film. As it is, it's certainly interesting to watch, but soon wears thin and feels like it's dragging too much for what should be a light, romantic comedy. Of course it leans toward the darker side of that genre, particularly with its surprising end, but the film never goes far enough in that direction either. Probably a better bet on video than in the theaters, we give "Love Serenade" just a 4.5 out of 10.
    Other than older teens, most kids will probably skip this film that has only a few categories with more than mild amounts of objectionable material. Violence is rated as a moderate due to one scene where a murder takes place (played as black comedy -- and listed in "Violence," but don't read it unless you want to know the ending), and that also affects the bad attitude category as does Ken's treatment of the sisters as sexual playthings. There are some brief sexual encounters, and another scene where Dimity's bare breasts are seen. Beyond those, most other categories are void of major objectionable material. Since this film hits upon the truth of many young women often confusing or using sex to get a boyfriend, thinking they're finding love, this is an important topic you may want to discuss with your kids if they're in that age group.

  • Ken brings his own bottle of wine to the restaurant on several occasions, and on the first, he's consumed more than half of the bottle by himself.
  • Ken and Vicki-Ann have wine with dinner and then have some sort of after dinner drink at his house.
  • During food preparation dead chickens are cut up and some fish guts are seen, but that's it.
  • Ken obviously takes advantage of the sisters' desperation for love and romance, and easily gets them to sleep with him. He doesn't however, initiate any of the action and repeatedly tells them that they don't want him and that he's no good for them.
  • Vicki-Ann treats her sister like an outcast after learning that she slept with Ken, and both give Ken a rather unpleasant surprise.
  • A man is pushed from the top of a silo, but this is very brief, and surprisingly is played for laughs.
  • None.
  • Phrase: "Piss off."
  • Although never seen, we're told that Albert has recently embraced nudism and likes to walk around the house nude.
  • Upset that Ken doesn't want to marry her, Vicki-Ann climbs to the top of a grain silo (making others think she'll jump).
  • None.
  • None.
  • There are many soulful songs "about procreation" as one character puts it, sung by 70's star Barry White. Lines include "Making love to you is all I want to do," "You need it girl and I need it to," "Take it off. Take it all off. I want you the way you came into the world," "This night we're gonna get it on, a love serenade," "We're gonna make love...we're gonna do it," "You feel good lying here next to me," "Oh baby, oh baby, give it up," and "Take off that brassiere, my dear."
  • 1 possible "s" word, 2 damns and 1 use each of "God" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Although never seen, we're told that Albert has recently embraced nudism and likes to walk around the house nude.
  • Dimity tells Ken that she can "ease your loneliness" and pulls offs her skirt in an impromptu striptease. She then pulls off her top and she stands before him in just her bra and underwear and then takes off the bra, revealing her bare breasts. Nothing else happens as Vicki- Ann starts pounding on the door.
  • Later, Ken and Dimity are together again and he tells her that "virgins are my speciality" and that he likes them inexperienced. It's then implied that they have sex.
  • Ken and Dimity have sex again, and this time movement is seen as he's on top of her, but both are covered by sheets.
  • Ken talks to Vicki-Ann about nudity and tells her that he'll get undressed if she does. They then have sex, but all we see is him rolling off from on top of her in bed (no nudity).
  • Albert smokes a cigarette.
  • The two sisters have a falling out over who will be Ken's girlfriend, but it's not too bad.
  • Sex versus love, and using sex in an attempt to get love.
  • A man is pushed from the top of a silo and falls to his death. Later his body is dumped into a river and sinks.

  • Reviewed August 8, 1997

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