director: Cate Shortland
I hope I’m not the only viewer who was plain irritated by Three Billboards and that thing where all these old unattractive men were hitched to young beautiful women. One of them was Abbie Cornish.
Here, in Somersault, her extraordinary beauty, a beauty that manages to be profound despite Heidi’s awareness of it and her intention to exploit it, is essential. It was Shortland’s first feature movie, and she used two unknowns, Cornish and Sam Worthington as the leads. If this was a gamble, she won the jackpot, causing one subsequent reviewer to say:
There is something else that Cate Shortland has achieved that so often eludes Australian film-makers. She appears to be extremely savvy when it comes to marketing her film. People are talking about Somersault. There’s a buzz that is more usually reliant on the involvement of at least one high profile actor. I’ve read more articles and seen more interviews about this film than I cannot remember having seen for similar Australian films made on a similar budget. Ruth Williams
The Me Too movement makes all women victims and all men bad. One of the things I love about this film is that Heidi is more or less in control throughout. There isn’t one encounter she has with men that isn’t of her own doing. We are talking about a sixteen year old. She sees life and herself through sex/men and only through sex/men. Nothing terrible ever happens to her throughout the trouble she invites.
In a powerful turn, Cornish creates a character who’s seductive yet brittle, with a knack for luring young men into situations where they almost have to hurt her. Scott Tobias
For me, the film and this interpretation of the promiscuous young girl, ran utterly true. It was like my childhood. Perhaps we need a different sort of ‘Me Too’ thing for some of us.
For an academic commentary of Somersault go here.
For comments by Shortland, Cornish and Worthington go here.
Shortland on Heidi: “Sometimes the film is quite dark but then I think of Heidi and she is surrounded by light. She is a survivor, resilient and tough skinned. She expects to be hurt so nothing can harm her.” Interview with Emanuel Levy.
Somersault made a killing in the AFI awards of 2004 and you can see that here.