Big business and a small, struggling rural support town are on a collision course in this good natured comedy made on a shoestring budget with extensive community goodwill.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2009
The ‘good, hard working people’ of Temuka take on Overseas International Liquids, aka Big Oil, in Stef Harris’ genial new small-town comedy. Reuniting the cast of The Waimate Conspiracy (2006), Harris once again addresses pressing social issues (corporate starvation of rural communities) by deploying a documentary style to spin an unlikely tale. No Petrol couldn’t be more direct in its sentimental attachment to the ‘ordinary New Zealander’, but there’s nothing air-brushed about this picture of rural virtues: the grit in his battlers feels tried and tested. Jim Moriarty and Helen Pearse-Otene play adopted siblings fighting off the suspiciously intense interest of OIL in the family garage after the mysterious accidental death of their father. The good aren’t the only hard workers hereabouts and Mark Hadlow huffs and slimes his way with odious relish through his lonely role as the devil’s increasingly frantic envoy. — BG