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The Merger - Film Review

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by Marina Marangos (subscribe)
Published January 13th 2021
Aussie Rules Footy is Fun

The new year is stretching out in front of us and what with the hot spots and the COVID-19 flare-ups, our ability to plan and get away are still a little compromised. So entertainment on the telly is the next best thing and you don't even have to have a COVID-19 test for that.

Last night we watched The Merger on Netflix. This is a film dating to 2018 - presented in 2019 - and I suspect not getting as much publicity as it deserves. Now if you want a thriller or a space odyssey, this one is not for you but if you want a relaxed and funny Aussie film with some great humour, and lovely characters mixed in with some heartfelt and important messages, this might be the answer to your evening entertainment.

So let me tell you a little about the film.The director is Mark Grentell. It stars Damian Callinan in the lead role of coach Troy Carrington, Kate Mulvany plays Angie the mum, John Howard as Bull Barlow, the bullish father in law and the engaging Rafferty Grierson as young Neil.

The Merger is a funny, heartwarming tale set in a remote and rural location of Bodgy Creek. It's a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business and a lot is going wrong. There aren't many jobs and there aren't many things to do and to add insult to injury, the footy club is condemned and needs to be pulled down and the footy team is just about hanging on for dear life.

The story begins when we are introduced to an engaging young man with a camera and video recorder Neil, who decides to interview Troy Carrington. He is dressed in a strange outfit and we soon understand that he has lost his father in a terrible accident but his father is the one who gifted him the camera, so he is determined not to be parted from it or his costume.

Living a hermit-like existence on the town's fringe, former football star Troy Carrington is coaxed into coaching after striking up an unlikely friendship with Neil. Teaming up with them is Neil's mum Angie (Mulvany), who is running a nearby refugee support centre. They decide that the best way to ensure the survival of the footy team is to recruit young and willing members from a group of refugees. There is the inevitable group of right-wing objectors who think the "refos" as they are called are taking all their jobs and it is led by Angie's father in law - a very bullish Bull, as he is called.

The story moves along through the considerable challenges of coaching of the new team, the prickly and difficult relationship between Troy and Bull, the increasingly warm and loving relationship between Troy, young Neil and his mother and the many background stories of the refugees which are all tied up and interconnected in this forgotten little township.

The team improves with each appearance on the field and humour, resilience and self-confidence abound. There is no doubt that there will be a happy end to this one and deservedly so.

The film is one of these feel-good movies, so all the loose ends tie up nicely in a beautiful bow at the end. Some people may find this a little contrived but film-making allows that and it also provides us viewers with the ultimate little reward of walking away from the sofa with a great big grin on our face. Watch it.

The Merger is on Netflix.
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Why? Lovely Aussie Film
When: Anytime so long as you have NETFLIX
Where: On your TVs
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