Most people would have heard of, or at least recognise actor Bryan Brown, he’s an iconic part of Australian film, prolific in the 70s and 80s. There’s no doubt he’s brilliant, but it’s his daughter Matilda Brown who’s come into her own acting, writing and producing, that deserves kudos for creating this gem of mini-series.
Lessons From The Grave’s plot follows Douglas (Bryan Brown) who has a heart attack and passes away after realising that he’s won fifty million dollars in the lottery. His daughter Bonnie (Matilda Brown) inherits the winnings, but isn’t quite ready to part with her father, so his apparition sticks around to give her guidance.
Needless to say, from the first three episodes of Lessons From The Grave it’s apparent that Matilda’s mastered the challenges of short film format really well. The series setting and script embrace rural Australian culture and the real life father daughter duo bring an easy, laid back attitude to their characters that’s quite endearing.
Bryan is hilarious as Douglas, a typical tight arse dirty old man who believes in tough love, but is a bit of a softie underneath. Matilda adeptly delivers deadpan humour as a nonchalant Bonnie who has no qualms speaking her mind. A couple of smooth affable cameos from Lale Teoman (series costumer) and Oliver Leimbach (series composer) round out some relatable characters, which one would hope will make a reoccurrence as the series progresses.
Episodes ‘Won’t be Forever’, ‘Feel So Alive’ and ‘Easy Way out’ allow the viewer insight into the nature of Douglas and Bonnie’s relationship and follow Bonnie as she begins to deal with her loss, coping on her own and society’s changed perception of her. The series thus far has hit the nail on the head when it comes to capturing subtleties of how Australian culture deals with the hard stuff through humour, making it a familiar and heartening viewing experience.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Lessons From The Grave airs on ABC1 every Wednesday night at 6:55pm, previous episodes are available for viewing on iview>> http://www.abc.net.au/iview/