A group of old friends reunite at Sydney's Palm Beach to celebrate a special birthday. However, the fun soon gives way to the messy realities of life.
I had a feeling when I saw the trailer, but this is definitely a film for the boomers. We have a story about three families that have mostly done quite well for themselves; having fame as musicians and actors, journalists, or selling businesses for a tidy sum. When it comes to watching the melodramas that rather prosperous families go through, it comes across as vapid to the younger generations.
With every scene taking place in a beach house, on a beachfront, in a fully-stocked bar, or in one of many boats, there is an affluence that makes these characters, not quite unlikeable, but more or less unrelatable to Gen X or Millennial generations. It is a peculiar choice to target the more mature audience, then again, Palm Beach does come across more like an extensive advertisement for buying a home in Sydney's Palm Beach.
Narratively, this film lacks drive and pacing. Tired, worn-out, and aimless (not unlike our characters) the story is in no rush to develop itself; happy to show its face and then nap for large expanses of the film's runtime. It creates an oddly inconsistent and lethargic viewing, with such low-impact drama that everything feels unfocused.
The cinematography and setting are the highlights of the film. So much so, that the gorgeous bays, shrubbery, and clear blue skies steal the spotlight in the narrative desert that is Palm Beach. The screenplay wastes the talents of the experienced cast list, their chemistry being the saving grace that makes this film watchable. There are certainly some relatable aspects in the hardships that these characters have been through (cancer, depression, envy, resentment), but these themes are mentioned and then disregarded as the temporary conflict-creating insignificant plot devices that they are.
It's refreshing to see a more flawed portrayal of the upper class, but Palm Beach struggles to do anything more than put together an inoffensive flick that can't gather up enough energy for a satisfying payoff. With a cast list that includes the likes of Sam Neill, Aaron C. Jeffrey, Richard E. Brown, and Bryan Brown, the centuries of acting experience on the screen go to waste.
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