Sucker is an adaptation of a comedy show that had its world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 15th. This coming of age comedic drama follows protagonist Laurence (John Luc) after he cheats and fails at his high-school exams. Banished by his parents to the country, he meets an old con man, the Professor (Timothy Spall), and his daughter Sarah (Lily Sullivan), from whom he learns the tricks of their trade, the effects of which affect him profoundly, both professionally and personally.
In classic Australian fashion, Sucker deals with its subject matter light-heartedly. However, it does have deeper connotations and directorial techniques as well. The subtlety of the colour pallet in scenes, like the big poker game, does not seem important initially, but the contrasting colours of black, white, red and blue foreshadows the result of the blackjack games. This subtlety might be a homage to the show the con man must put on and the original roots of the film as a stage show.
Furthermore, this history is seen in the constant re-shooting the same scenes with different endings, creating mistrust between the audience and the screen, much like a con man and his tricks. This is cemented in the peculiar ending of the film: a scene showing activity on-set that reaffirms the mistrust between the film and the audience. Ultimately, Sucker‘s ending takes away from the enjoyable story line of the film. By ending the film in a quasi-behind-the-scenes fashion, it breaks down the suspension of disbelief the audience has held.
The casting of John Luc was a constant enigma leading up to the premiere as his YouTuber status was either going to make or break the movie. Initially, the familiarity of him was annoying and the man and his character could not be separated. That being said, as the film went on this lessened, but never to the extent that it disappeared. If it did at all, it was in the scenes with great tension between Laurence and Sarah. Luc and Sullivan created great chemistry together, which not only translated into their characters, but also the rest of the cast.
Given its multi-genre aspect, it’s hard to think of other films that can begin to compare to it, especially as it’s an Australian film which comes with its own connotations and colloquialisms. The fact that this is an adaption from a comedy show also puts it in its own separate category. A Fish Called Wanda may be its closest comparison as it also is a comedic take on a heist with a touch of romance. Overall, Sucker is a thoroughly enjoyable film and a great addition to Australian cinema: