A contemporary ensemble drama telling the complex tale of six high school students whose lives are interwoven with situations that so many of todayís youth are faced with. The story takes place during a normal school day. At precisely 2:37 a tragedy will occur, affecting the lives of a group of students and their teachers. As the film unfolds, the individual stories of the six teenagers are revealed, each with its own explosive significance. An unwanted pregnancy unravels a terrible, dark secret; all is not as it appears for the seemingly confident school football hero; an outcast must deal with everyday taunts from his peers; a beautiful young girl battles an eating disorder; a stellar student constantly struggles to win his parentsí approval,and another uses drugs.
What The Critics Say
"...follows six teenagers on a typical school day as they face issues of pregnancy, homosexuality, drug addiction, bulimia, bullying and rape. These events culminate in the suicide of one student at precisely 2:37pm. If this all sounds horribly morbid, it is. But it's also painfully real. Rarely has there been a more honest, raw depiction of teen angst on screen."
"The performances from a group of unknown actors are impressive, they are reportedly fellow students of the director. But the denouement at the end leaves one with a feeling of having been manipulated, undoubtedly by a young man with talent, but manipulated nevertheless."
Margaret Pomeranz ABC AT THE MOVIES
"I've got great misgivings about the film on all sorts of levels - but I do think, for a 19-year-old, because he was 19 when he made this film, to go out and actually do it and to get such a fine cast of young actors who are all very, very good, I think in the film. I think it's not a proven talent completely because his second film will tell a lot, I think. Itíll be very interesting."
David Stratton ABC AT THE MOVIES
"2.37's stylistic circularity and a camera that often follows actors in a detached, uninvolved way create a feeling of insularity and disconnectedness thatís intrinsic to the subject of teen suicide. Reminiscent of Gus van Santís Elephant both in looping camera technique, and in the high school setting and themes, 2.37 is not as bleak, nor as unengaging for the viewer, though the constant echoes of van Santís film are a little distracting. In fact, 2.37 is compelling and intriguing in its own right, its visual poetry aided by a superb classical soundtrack."
"...donít let a little thing like an in-your-face suicide scene put you off seeing one of the best Australian films of the year. If anything, writer/director Murali K Thalluri has simply succeeded, if the sequence is hard to watch. He wants it like that. That way, itíll stay with you. Itíll make you think. Importantly, itíll make everyone either think twice, or at least consider, the effects of suicide. By no means is 2:37 an entertaining movie. No way. Instead, itís an enlightening, well performed (all the youngsters are rather superb in it, even when their dialogue isnít at its most convincing), and topical feature, which at best, signals a global cry for help."
Clint Morris WEBWOMBAT
"A film depicting this much teen angst and teen dilemma could easily slip into a whining abyss of 'but what about the children?' Ė miraculously 2:37 does not. The credit, where plenty of credit is due, goes first and foremost to first time director Murali K. Thalluri, who has fathered this movie in every way possible. Thalluri wrote, cast and directed; hassled the rich for funding, stalked sound designer Leslie Shatz (who won an Oscar nomination for best sound on The Mummy) until he agreed to work with him, and learned almost everything there is to know about film in a rather short period of time."
"2:37 is a the debut feature of Murali K. Thalluri. It is well-shot, well-acted and well-hyped. It is a stunning piece of work in almost every department, especially when you consider Thalluri is 22 years old. The only area this film doesnít shine, is in its writing. And thatís because this film was written once before recently and it was called "Elephant". Iím not the first person to point this out."
The Inside Story
A lot has been said about the Murali K Thalluri film, "2:37", much of it in gushimg critical praise of what Thalluri accomplished at the tender age of nineteen. I have to admit that Thalluri's film ain't half bad, but please don't take that as an endorsement of what my colleages in the industry have published on the internet and in the daily newspapers nationally. while Thalluri's "2:37" is a some-what interesting film to watch it also leaves one feeling a little blasť despite its dramatic and very graphic suicide ending. Blasť in the context of this review aptly describes the film as a little boring and certainly a style which has become indifferent through over-familiarity. We've seen it all before in a number of films, many of which had a far greater commercial value. Despite that fact they didn't draw a big response from cinemagoers, although they did with the critics. "2:37" is what I call a 'festival' film. One which will do well at Cannes, Toronto or Sundance. In the atmosphere which pervades film festivals, the raw style of "2:37" will be more appreciated than it would be in the confines of multiplexes that need bums on seats. Full credit to Thalluri for sticking with his project because it wasn't an easy task completing the film. His tenacity is to be applauded along with his strength (both physical and mental), which must have been sorely tested at times. Thalluri received no government finance to get his film out there. The subject of teen suicide is one few of us will, thankfully, never experience first hand. But for those who lose someone near and dear in their formative years, it would be a devestating blow. A powerful blow that time would never completely erase. "I, personally, first encountered suicide when a friend of mine decided life was so unbearable that they had to take their own life," Thalluri recalls noting, "that too in an incredibly horrific, and bloody manner. Two days after this person slit their wrist, I received a miniDV videotape in the mail. It was a video suicide note!" And even though Thalluri admits he's seen some horrific things in his short life, he wasn't prepared for what he was about to see. "In my time I have seen some pretty horrific things, but watching someone scream, cry, shout, and beg as they were preparing themselves to carry through with the act of taking their own life is something that haunts me to this day." Like many of us he couldn't come to grips with why someone would opt out of life in such a manner. I guess too that there are many who would share his initial view that suicide "was unfair, selfish, and just plain weak." Some six months later Thalluri's situation changed dramatically. Problems with his kidneys flared up, he and his girlfriend had gone their seperate ways, his job at the Taxation Department was depressing and there was a prospect of having to have surgery on his eye. "Suddenly I began to understand what my friend felt all those months earlier, I was in a corner, and I had no place to go as the uncontrollable pressures of my daily life were advancing fast." What compounded his problems was nobody seemed to understand his cry for help. "In my mind, I was crying," he says. I was screaming, but no one was there to help." Eventually he gave in to the dark forces and popped down, with the assistance of three quarters of a bottle of Vodka, fourteen codeine tablets.
Thalluri recalls a "few hours later to my dismay I awoke, but my body was paralysed, I could barely move, and I was forced to think. Think about life, the future, the past, but most importantly my dreamsÖ I began to think about my aspirations as a film maker, and I said to myself that if I had lived, I would follow the dream relentlessly. Hours later as I regained movement in my limbs I threw up, vomited all the vile chemicals that I had taken to kill myself, and after recovering I wrote the first draft of Ď2:37í (then called "All In A Day") in 36 hours." He set his film in a high school presenting "school life as it should be presented, not only filled with the hustle bustle and the drama but also the flip side. We present high school life as a place where happiness and sadness lie side by side, where many switch sides with common regularity." It's great to have a vision and a story to tell, but you can't do it without money. "I went on a journey of raising private money, convincing experienced film practitioners to work with me, getting more money, and basically doing everything under the sun to get to a position where I could make this film. I spent a few weeks sitting in the Borders Bookstore reading every book on film, television and theatre, I got in touch with experienced film makers to pick their brains, I studied the taxation system to find holes in it, so I could get various real estate developers to put up the money for my film, and I travelled around the world with one of my primary collaborators - Nick Matthews, all in the name of "2:37", until eventually two years later we completed the film." He's obviously very proud of his finished product and the effect it has had on his own life. "I call it 'the film that saved my life', and my ultimate hope is that it will save many others." It will be interesting to see where the talented young filmmaker heads next and what he chooses for his second project. I for one, don't want to sound harsh in my appraisal of his first effort, but commercial viability is the key to success. If there was one bit of advice I'd like to encourage Thalluri with it is the same I once gave after seeing the Japanese horror flick "Ringu". Put it in the hands of a Hollywood crew, get a couple of big names, and it will be a winner. And they did. Thalluri needs to adopt a similar attitude with "2:37". Imagine how it would look in the same light as "Ringu" and apply it to your next project. You've obviously got the talent Thalluri, so go out and put it to good use young man.
What They Had To Say
"I was the first person to be cast in 2:37. Before I had even read the script, I was drawn to Muraliís vibrant personality. He was so passionate about the film, and I really wanted to be a part of it. When I went home and read the script, I absolutely balled my eyes out, it was something that was so honest, so true, it was something that I really felt a part of." Teresa Palmer
"ďIíve always been passionate about acting, the opportunity to be in a feature film was something I jumped at. I absolutely threw myself into the role of Sean. I did extensive research, and worked incredibly hard with Murali, to make my character come to life." Joel Mackenzie

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that at 18 I would act in a feature film... When we started this whole process, who ever would have thought weíd get distribution all over the world, get into Cannes, and have a career beyond the film. Not me!" Frank Sweet

"I remember the first time Murali came in to teach our acting class, we had no idea he was a director - well I suppose he wasnít then - but we had no idea he was looking for a cast for his film. When he saw what I could do, and approached me about the role of Sarah, I was so surprised. I mean with an audition, deep down you hope for the role, but with this it came out of the blue - it was so unexpected." Marni Spillane

"I remember the first time I met Murali, I had no idea what he looked like, or who I was going to meet. I was waiting at a cafť, when Murali approached me, pretending to be Dustin Hoffman from Rainman. He started telling me that he liked lamingtons, and asking if I had one. I wonít lie, I was a little bit scared, but alas, it was just Murali up to one of his old tricks." Sam Harris

"It was late July, and I was walking in the Rundle Mall in Adelaide, when Murali approached me on the street. He told me he was making a film, and asked if we could have lunch. I wonít lie, I was a bit weird out, but at the same time intrigued. Anyway, he gave me the script, and I read it, and I felt completely and utterly attached to the character of Uneven Steven. You see like him, I had scoliosis, and a strong limp." Charles Baird

"Acting in 2:37 has been by far, the most rewarding experience of my life. Iím not going to say it was easy, because it wasnít, BUT working with Murali and his team made me realise I could do things that I never, ever thought I could do. He really stretched us, took us as far as we could go, and the great thing about it all, despite the fact that it was hard, it was never work." Clementine Mellor

"Right from the beginning of pre-production Murali always wanted to push the quality of the filmmaking, and the images we were to give to the audience, all this was despite the fact that we had a tiny sum of money to work with." Nick Matthews

"Cutting our own film certainly had its plus points, however bringing Dale on in the final stages to lend his objective insight into the cut was something that made the film from being something we were happy with, to something we were ecstatic with. It was an interesting, educational, and fulfilling journey. Thereís nothing quite like watching your own film come to life, itís an almost spiritual experience." Nick Matthews and Murali K Thalluri

The Verdict
"Given the raw quality of the cast and a lack of 'big' money, you have to applaud the directorial debut of twenty year old Murali K Thalluri who maintained his vision and enthusiasm right to the very end of his project. While many critics have heaped praise on young Thalluri, "2:37" is not a film that will attract a big audience. It's a great little film for festivals such as Cannes, Toronto and Sundance where audience tend to favour anything that is abstract and challenges the 'norm'. In such an environment it will win over audiences and critics alike, but in the wider world where bums on seats count, it will not survive. Cinemgoers are shying away from what they perceive as 'dark' films. Indeed, the mere mention of teen suicide and an R18+ rating is enough to have them looking at what else is screening in their local multiplex. Despite this, I hope that Thalluri keeps fuelling the fire within, using "2:37" as a springboard to move on to bigger and better things. A generous 3 STARS."
Who's Who?
Teresa Palmer
Joel Mackenzie
Frank Sweet
Clementine Mellor
Charles Baird
Sam Harris
Marni Spillane
Sarah Hudson
Chris Olver
Xavier Samuel
Gary Sweet
Daniel Whyte
Irena Dangov
Olivia Furlong
Michael Griffin
Amy Schapel
Uneven Steven
Mr Darcy
Mr Swift
Ms Jacobs
The Crew
Directed by Murali K Thalluri
Writen by Murali K Thalluri
Produced by Nick Matthews/Kent Smith/Murali K Thalluri
Original Music by Mark Tschanz
Cinematography by Nick Matthews
Film Editing by Nick Matthews/Dale Roberts/Murali K Thalluri
Run Time 94 minutes
Rated R18+ [AUST]
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