Bitter & Twisted
Photos and Video
This elegy to unrealized dreams contemplates the dark currents flowing beneath suburban placidity. The Lombard family has been steadily disintegrating since the death of oldest son Liam three years before. The descent is slow and soft, manifesting itself in a personal crisis for each family member. Obese father Jordan is caught in a vicious cycle of depressed overeating, and his boss at the car dealership is threatening to fire him if he doesn't make a sale. Mother Penny harbors a hysterical false hope that she may be pregnant and suffers a rude awakening when she discovers that, on the contrary, she has started menopause. Son Ben is not sure if he is gay or straight, but he knows that he has very strong feelings for the girl across the cul-de-sac-his dead brother's ex-girlfriend-who also happens to be having a tragic affair with a married man. Australian writer, director, and star Christopher Weekes, who financed Bitter & Twisted himself, remarkably captures the way a family can fold after an unexpected death. He develops the crisis of each family member with an almost clinical precision while keeping the overall tone somewhat dreamy. "This isn't the person I thought I'd become," Penny (Australian TV personality Noni Hazlehurst) says as she sits at the side of her husband's hospital bed, and with that she sums up the crisis of each character. This stirring depiction of quiet desperation is perfectly accompanied by a warm, melancholic soundtrack of Nick Drake songs.
Director's Statement Collapse
Bitter & Twisted is a movie about identity—or essentially how our past shapes who we are
today. The first draft of the screenplay was written when I was 20 years old. It manifested from
a desire to depict the Australia I’ve always known, far from the “occa” stereotype of beer-drinking, football-loving louts and rather more grounded in the isolation that can exist in some of the smaller forgotten suburbs on the outskirts of a large city such as Sydney. A guidebook to discovering your inner quirk, if you will. After mountains of rejections from the Australian funding bodies, I was close to putting the idea behind me when one of my parents died quite unexpectedly. In the dark six months that followed, the film seemed to find itself. Using the insurance money, I was able to self-fund the entire production. Through a lot of luck and perseverance, well known Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst was handed a copy of the screenplay by a sound recorder friend of mine, having always written the lead role with her in mind. It was nothing short of a miracle that she accepted the role, generously putting so much faith into the production, and most importantly into me, still only 23 at the time and having done virtually nothing before that qualified me to direct a feature.
Noni alerted us to a 10-day window she had coming up in her schedule, and with the first role now cast, and a shoot date we couldn’t miss, Bitter & Twisted finally began its life. The entire film was storyboarded a month before shooting using a 3-D animation program, allowing the cinematographer Sam Collins and producer Bridget Callow to prepare the tight schedule we were going to employ to try and film this 120-page beast in only 18 days. Myself and the team pulled out every trick in the book to ensure we shot on 16mm and avoided the more common video and HD pathways. It was always my wish that the audience could view this film for the story and characters it presents and not constantly feel blocked by its no-budget origins. At the time of shooting we dubbed it “Dogma with a Dolly.” Ultimately, years after starting as nothing but a distant dream in the back of my parents house, Bitter & Twisted can now complete its journey to the audience.
Film Information Collapse
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast Noni Hazlehurst, Steve Rodgers, Leeanna Walsman, Gary Sweet, Matt Newton, Christopher Weekes
Screenwriter Christopher Weekes
Producer Bridget Callow
Executive Producer Michael Favelle
Director of Photography Sam Collins
Editor Simon Wright
Composer Brian Cachia
Production Designer Phil Shearer
Connect to this film Collapse
About the Director(s)Collapse
Christopher Weekes wrote and directed his debut feature, Bitter & Twisted, at age 24 in Sydney, Australia. His previous short film credits include The Chance (1998), Beautiful Lilly (1999), and George Lucas & I (2001). As well as writing and directing from an early age, he has worked as a visual artist and designer on many film, television, and commercial productions, including The Boy from Oz (2006), Hi-5 (2005-2008), Preservation (2004), and Dying Breed (2008). Christopher graduated from the University of New South Wales in 2001 with degrees in film, theater, and English.