The Castle (film)
Independent Films, Film Profiles
The Castle is a 1997 Australian comedy film that gained widespread acclaim in Australia, but was not widely distributed globally.The Castle starred Michael Caton and Anne Tenney, Eric Bana, and Charles 'Bud' Tingwell. Directed by Rob Sitch, the screenwriting team comprised Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Jane Kennedy of Working Dog Productions. The Castle was filmed in 11 days on a budget of approximately AUD$500,000 (rumoured to be as little as AUD$19,000). It grossed AU$10,326,428 at the box office in Australia. The Castle was Eric Bana's first film The blue collar Kerrigan home is filled with love as well as pride in their modest lifestyle, but their idyll is threatened when developers attempt the compulsory acquisition of their house to expand the neighboring Melbourne airport.The Kerrigan house is built on in a largely empty housing tract, on a toxic landfill, beneath powerlines, and directly adjacent to an airport runway. Despite all this, sweet-natured family patriarch Darryl (Michael Caton) believes that he lives in the lap of luxury. Blissfully unaware of his family's lack of style or sophistication, he busies himself by driving a tow truck, racing greyhounds, and constantly adding tacky renovations to the house. The rest of the Kerrigan clan shares and supports his enthusiasm in every way.One day, a government appraiser arrives to inspect the house. Though he has no wish to sell, Darryl points out all the faults of the house with pride, believing they will add value. The next day, he receives a letter informing him of the compulsory acquisition of his house for the sum of AU$70,000. His neighbors all receive similar notices. Believing on common principle that the government cannot evict him unwillingly from his treasured home, Darryl attempts to fight the eviction. Agents from the airport try to bribe and bully the family into giving up, but their actions only stiffen the Kerrigans' resolve to resist. Darryl hires an incompetent lawyer acquaintance, Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora), but Dennis's meager argument that the eviction goes against the "vibe" of the Constitution does not go well in court. While awaiting the court's final decision, Darryl makes pleasant small talk with a retired lawyer, Lawrence Hammill (Bud Tingwell). The court rejects the family's appeal and gives them two weeks to vacate. The purchase price for the home is barely enough to cover a small apartment. Dejected in defeat, the family begins to pack.A new breath of hope comes with the surprise arrival of Lawrence, who reveals himself as a former Queen’s Counsel. Lawrence has taken an interest in the Kerrigan’s case and offers to argue before the High Court of Australia on their behalf, pro bono. Lawrence makes a persuasive case that the Kerrigans have the right to just terms of compensation for acquisition of property under s51(xxxi) of the Constitution. He closes by paraphrasing Darryl’s own comments that his house is more than just a structure of bricks and mortar, but a home built with love and shared memories. The court rules in favor of the Kerrigans, and their case becomes a landmark precedent on the subject. An epilogue shows that the Kerrigans continue to prosper happily, and Lawrence becomes a lasting friend of the family.
Year of Production: 1997
Length: 83 min.
- Rob Sitch
- Working Dog Productions
- Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Eric Bana