In 1994, Joe (Jerome Meyer) and Anu (Maggie Naouri) meet in a bar in Newcastle. Three years later the young couple are living together in Canberra - Joe is working as an engineer; Anu is studing law at the Australian National University. But all is not well, Anu's physical and mental health is deteriorating. There is talk of immune disorders and other rare conditions.
Joe does his best to seek help for Anu, meeting with her uni counsellor and shuttling her around to doctors. But with no end in sight, Anu sets upon a plan of drugging Joe in order to give herself enough time to take a fatal dose of heroin, thus ending her misery. She enlists the help of fellow law student, Madhavi (Sacha Joseph) to enact a last supper - a dinner party before she kills herself. But the initial attempt fails, and with an ever-growing circle of people aware of Anu's suicide plan, things become even more difficult for Anu and she spirals out of control.
Based on the 2004 book by Helen Garner, Joe Cinque's Consolation tells a deeply disturbing true story. Directed by Sotiris Dounoukos, who attended ANU roughly at the same time the events were taking place, the film shows Joe and Anu's crumbling relationship and also highlights the complicity of Anu's friends, whether its Madhavi's blind adherence to anything Anu says or even the random students who stumble upon Anu's plan.
Maggie Naouri's Anu is the performance of the film, she renders a complex and disturbed character remarkably well. Jerome Meyer plays Joe as a rather pleasant everyman who fails to recognise the seriousness of Anu's condition. Sasha Joseph as Madhavi is also good, playing a frightening accomplice to Anu's schemes.
This is an excellent film. It's not an easy one to watch - it delves headlong into a host of most unpleasant themes. But it's a mature piece of filmmaking, benefiting from solid performances and direction that realises that stories such as these need to be told.