Translating gibberish

Jeremy Quinn reviews Nude Tuesday.

While it may not be the laugh riot promised by the trailers, the likeable New Zealand/Australian co-production Nude Tuesday (Rialto) garners big points for originality and audaciousness; its premise of a bored, forty-something couple, who attend a spiritual retreat in the great outdoors to breathe life into their marriage, is given a huge conceptual boost with the decision to have all the dialogue spoken in gibberish.

Shot in New Zealand, the opening scene takes place on the fictional island of Zobftan, not far from Hawaii, where the inhabitants speak Zobftanlik, a sort of Scandinavian/Eastern European hybrid improvised on set by the actors, based on writer/star Jackie van Beek’s screenplay. It might seem like an odd choice, but it perfectly suits the theme of miscommunication at its heart.

The gimmick gets gimmickier once you learn that the subtitles, by UK comedian Julia Davis, were written without knowledge of the original script, and that alternate versions from different writers have been prepared for release in other countries. I suppose, conceivably, that the dialogue is up for grabs by anyone with a knack for comedy and a knowledge of SRT (subtitle files). Nevertheless, its the saving grace for a movie which probably wouldn’t have worked otherwise. Having said that, van Beek’s performance is terrific, grounding the whole enterprise. And the closing sequence, whereby the story finally lives up to its title, is surprisingly brave film-making.



Director:        Armagan Ballantyne

Cast:              Jackie van Beek, Damon Herriman, Jemaine Clement, Ian Zaro, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Ghenoa Gela, Byron Coll, Yvette Parsons, Chris Bunton, Jesse Griffin

Rating:          (R16) ★★★



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