walking on water (2003)


director: tony ayres

vince colosimo, maria theodorakis, nathaniel dean

ďItís terrible to outlive your child,Ē says the mother of Gavin, just moments after her AIDSicken son has been ďassistedĒ into the next world by his friends. Itís neither an original line nor sentiment, but itís nevertheless true, and you could say that about much of Tony Ayres' Walking on Water, an Australian drama about a group of friends trying to cope with grief.

Anna, marvelously played by Maria Theodorakis, was Gavinís best friend and business partner, a tense workaholic who slips into the role of grieving widow a bit too eagerly. Charlie (Vince Colosimo), who helped give Gavin an extra push into the afterlife with a plastic bag, is consumed by grief, which he medicates with Gavinís leftover morphine.

Anna begins a hysterical affair with Simon, Gavinís younger brother, while Charlieís relationship with his younger boyfriend disintegrates in the oppressive atmosphere that fills the house. What Ayres ends up showing more than anything else is people coping badly with grief, culminating in Anna and Simonís disastrous ecstasy and poppers-fueled night of clubbing.

While Ayresí is a master of the small touches, like the black and unintentionally comic moments that accompany a funeral, but his film never aspires to much more than a comforting platitude of an ending, pulling back from the terrible grief hinted at by Gavinís mother.