Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Somersault 2004

Directed by Cate Shortland

106 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Anthony Anderson


Robert Humphreys


Scott Gray


Decoder Ring


Abbie Cornish
Sam Worthington
Lynette Curran
Erik Thomson


Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2004


A young woman who seems to seek a sexual connection with every man she meets, and a young man who hardly dares connect at all, affect each other in ways that flummox and nourish them both in Cate Shortland’s vibrant début feature. Shortland, who evoked the world of Japanese surfers in Bondi in her brilliant short film Flowergirl, proves equally in touch with another pocket of transient youth in a much chillier and less familiar Australia: the ski resort town of Jindabyne. Sixteen-year-old Heidi seeks refuge there after being thrown out of home for coming on to her mother’s boyfriend. Her directness strikes unexpected chords in the handsome Joe, a hurting mass of undirected desire behind the stoney mask of landowner-class disdain. Shortland cites Jane Campion and Gillian Armstrong as her models. She shares Campion’s empathy with the anxious and isolated, along with Armstrong’s keen sense of social interaction and class distinctions. But there’s a keenly attuned sensuality to this film that’s more akin to French cinema. Somersault relates youthful desire in fits and starts of acute sensation and emotion. — BG 

“Cate Shortland has expertly served up a vivid and touching tale, one told many times before, but in this well-realized mounting, one that sparkles with fresh awareness… Somersault bounds with ripe human vigor, largely due to Abbie Cornish’s sensual, stormy portrayal of the fragile Heidi. Her performance touches universal nerves… As a member of the local gentry, Sam Worthington captures frailties within his outwardly macho character, fleshing out a young man who, to his great surprise, is touched by the young girl.” — Duane Burge, Hollywood Reporter