1 April 1990

Filmnews: Raw Nerve

(Aust 1989; dist: Pyodawn Pty Ltd; rt: 91 mins)

At first glance Raw Nerve seems an honest, if innocent attempt to play out an Australian version of the narrative trajectory which dominated a particularly successful "stream" of American cinema in the '80s: the teen plus psychodrama.

The stream begins with the teenager played by Meg Tilley in The Big Chill, and takes in films like The Breakfast Club, St Elmo's Fire, and About Last Night. In each film the characters undergo trauma and catharsis, realising themselves by film's end, defining the ground where they can apprehend the truth about themselves. But the difference between Raw Nerve and its American predecessors lies in the heavy mapping of class across each character's persona. Three teenagers (looking more in their late twenties than late teens) break into a mansion in semi rural countryside. As they indulge themselves in the master's opulence their exuberant interplay reveals fairly standard hangups centering on the family: the working class anti hero longs to be free of drunken parents he must support; the son of upper middle class sterility wallows in self loathing, directing his hate at the very rich; and the daughter of a broken middle class marriage suffers under the weight of an adolescence devoid of innocence. Strong acting from the talented cast saves this small film from oblivion and while the script lets everyone down at times. Raw Nerve is worthy of more than passing interest.

- Michael Hutak

Filmnews (Sydney, NSW : 1975 - 1995), Sunday 1 April 1990, page 13

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