Focus on the Television Nominees: Part 3 – The Acting Awards

By Simon Elchlepp & Rochelle Siemienowicz

In Part 1 of this series on the television nominees, we looked at the producers who stand to win the AACTA Awards for Best Television Drama Series, and Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series.

In Part 2, we took a closer look at the nominees for Direction and Screenplay in Television.

Now it’s time to learn a little more about those familiar (and sometimes unfamiliar) faces who appear in front of the camera and make watching the box essential and irresistible: the actors and actresses nominated for the television acting awards. Here they are, unpacked below. Make predictions if you will. All will be revealed when the winners are announced on 31 January at the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony, which will be broadcast on the Nine Network.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Rob Carlton. Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. ABC1
Alex Dimitriades. The Slap. ABC1
Don Hany. East West 101, Season 3 – The Heroes’ Journey. SBS
Jonathan LaPaglia. The Slap. ABC1

Rob Carlton has come a long way since his early bit roles in High Tide and John Duigan’s classic The Year My Voice Broke. Working steadily throughout the 1990s in Australian TV in acting roles, Carlton made the shift to writing and producing with 2006’s Tropfest-winning short Carmichael & Shane. Just two years later, Carlton proved his impressive multiple talents once more with comedy series Chandon Pictures, which brought him two AFI Award nominations for Best Television Comedy Series in 2008 and 2009 and another nomination for Best Performance in a Television Comedy in 2008. His award nomination run continues with the AACTA Award nomination for his role as publishing magnate Kerry Packer in Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo. And Carlton’s star continues to rise, with his 2012 projects including P.J. Hogan’s Mental, Working Dog’s Any Questions for Ben? and big-budget family drama TV series Conspiracy 365. (Find out more about Conspiracy 365 here in our Quick Quiz with the series’ star, Harrison Gilbertson.)

Alex Dimitriades third AFI | AACTA Award nomination is evidence that he has established himself as a character actor who’s not afraid to tackle challenging roles. No matter if it’s his turn as the dominant, violence-prone alpha male in The Slap or his explosive performance as rebellious homosexual youth at odds with his Greek family in Head On, Dimitriades brings a fierce intensity to his roles. He burst on the scene opposite Claudia Karvan in 1993’s romantic comedy The Heartbreak Kid and went on to star in popular teen series Heartbreak High. Shedding his teen heartthrob image with his AFI Award-nominated performance as Best Actor in a Lead Role in 1998’s Head On, Dimitriades went on to earn another nomination, this time as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for La Spagnola in 2001. Dimitriades recently also starred in Summer Coda, one of this year’s 21 contending Feature Films.

Don Hany scores a hat trick this year with his third AFI | AACTA Award nomination. Once more, he’s in the run for an award with his consistently excellent work as Detective Zane Malik in SBS’s highly-decorated East West 101, which already netted him nominations as Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama in 2008 and 2009. Before his breakthrough in East West 101, Hany had already established himself through his work on another crime series, White Collar Blue. After starring in AFI Award winning series Underbelly, False Witness and Tangle, Hany shifted gears and displayed his comedic talents as romantic lead in Offspring opposite Asher Keddie, another of 2011’s AACTA Award nominees.

For Jonathan LaPaglia, The Slap is a premiere in more than one way. Not only has the role of Hector, a passive husband and father with a disintegrating marriage, brought LaPaglia his first AFI | AACTA Award nomination, but The Slap is also LaPaglia’s first Australia production. Born in Adelaide, Jonathan (who happens to be the brother of Anthony LaPaglia) moved to the USA in 1994. He quickly carved out a niche for himself, starring in a number of crime series including New York Undercover, Seven Days, The District, Windfall and Cold Case from the mid-1990 onwards. He also made his feature film debut in Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Henry in 1997.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Essie Davis. Cloudstreet. FOXTEL – Showcase
Kerry Fox. Cloudstreet. FOXTEL – Showcase
Asher Keddie. Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. ABC1
Sarah Snook. Sisters Of War. ABC1

2011 has been a banner year for Essie Davis, with roles in two of this year’s highest profile Australian television productions. In Cloudstreet, for which she is nominated, Davis plays the beautiful and wayward wife of Sam Pickles, while in The Slap, she plays Anouk, a sexy,straight-talking career woman with dreams of becoming a novelist. Davis has built an impressive local and international career in film, television and theatre, with credits in Girl With a Pearl Earring, Sweeney Todd, and The Matrix Reloaded, as well as local films like AustraliaSouth Solitary and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. She received her first AFI nomination in 1995 for Best Supporting Actress in Dad and Dave: On our Selection, and her second in 2000 for her work in television series Halifax f.p. In 2003 she won the AFI Award for Best Actress in a Supporting or Guest Role in a Television Drama or Comedy for telemovie After the Deluge. Davis will appear in the lead role of Phryne Fisher next year in television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Starting out more than twenty years ago, Kerry Fox is one of New Zealand’s most prominent character actresses. After Fox made her feature film debut in Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table, her career quickly expanded continents with her roles in Gillian Armstrong’s The Last Days of Chez Nous, Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave and Michael Winterbottom’s Welcome to Sarajevo. After her first AFI Award nomination for Best Actress in a Lead Role for Country Life in 1994, Fox received further awards accolades for her unflinching performance in the British relationship drama Intimacy, which netted her a Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2001. Working mostly in the UK, Fox was reunited with Jane Campion for Bright Star for which she received her second AFI Award nomination in 2010, this time as Best Supporting Actress. In 2011, Fox co-starred with fellow nominee Essie Davis in Cloudstreet and Burning Man.

Through her work in Australian TV and theatre,  Asher Keddie has become one of this country’s most recognisable and intriguing actresses. Starting out as a child actress in 1985, Keddie returned to the small screen in the mid-90s after a break and quickly landed roles in critically acclaimed productions like Janus and Simone de Beauvoir’s Babies. After performances in TV series State Coroner and Stingers, Keddie’s breakthrough role was her portrayal of endearingly neurotic new mother and wife, Julia Jackson, in Foxtel’s Love My Way. Her star-making turn brought her an AFI Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama in 2006 and several Silver Logie nominations. Two more AFI Award nominations followed soon: in 2009 for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama for her role in Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities and in 2010 for her performance as Bob Hawke’s second wife Blanche D’Alpuguet in Hawke (Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama). In 2011, Keddie not only scored her third AFI Award nomination in a row, but also starred in two of this year’s highest-rating TV drama productions, Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo and Offspring. Her nomination recognises her fascinating and realistic portrayal of a real life wonder woman, editor extraordinaire Ita Buttrose.

In an awards category packed with seasoned veterans, Sarah Snook is the up-and-coming novice who represents Australia’s new acting talent. Snook graduated from NIDA in 2008 and appeared on the theatre stage in the State Theatre Company of South Australia’s production of King Lear. After a short foray into the film and TV industry via a guest role in All Saints in 2009, Snook has made her mark as one of Australia’s most promising new talents in 2011. Her roles this year included performances in controversial erotic drama Sleeping Beauty, AFI Award-nominated TV series Packed to the Rafters and Spirited and of course Sisters of War, which has already brought Snook her first AFI Award nomination. In this telemovie, Snook plays a beautiful young nurse captured by the Japanese in World War II Papua New Guinea and befriended by a young Australian nun (Claire van der Boom). There’s more to come in 2012, with Snook starring in TV movie Blood Brothers and opposite Ryan Kwanten in Not Suitable for Children.

 


AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Richard Cawthorne. Killing Time – Episode 2. FOXTEL – TV1
Aaron Fa’aoso. East West 101, Season 3 – The Heroes’ Journey – Episode 18 ‘The Price Of Salvation’. SBS
Jacek Koman. Spirited, Season 2 – Episode 2 ‘Time After Time’. FOXTEL – W
Todd Lasance. Cloudstreet – Part 3. FOXTEL – Showcase

An awards nomination can be a breakthrough success for a rising star, or it can be the confirmation of years of hard work. For Richard Cawthorne, it’s a bit of both. He’s been around on Australian TV screens since his debut role in 2000 in Eugenie Sandler P.I. More guest roles in crime dramas were to follow and over the following years, Cawthorne appeared in Stingers, Blue Heelers, Rush and AFI-award winning feature film Noise. Following his performance in mega-budget TV mini-series The Pacific, this year Cawthorne caught viewers’ attention with his scene-stealing portrayal of Melbourne crime boss Denis Allen in Killing Time, which brought him his well-deserved first AACTA Award nomination.

Aaron Fa’aoso didn’t have to wait long for his first taste of success in the TV business. His debut role in the multi-AFI Award winning RAN: Remote Area Nurse brought him a nomination as Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama in 2006. Fa’aoso’s biggest acting role on the silver screen since that early success has been his turn as Detective Sonny Koa in acclaimed crime series East West 101. However, Aaron’s talents extend beyond acting: he was the writer and director of Indigenous short film Sharpeye and is the executive producer on one of 2012’s most hotly anticipated TV series, The Straits– in which he will also play one of the main protagonists.

Not many nominees in this year’s TV acting categories can look back on a career as long and varied as Jacek Koman. Born in Poland, Koman debuted on Polish TV in the late 1970s before he moved to Australia. His impressive international portfolio includes numerous roles in Australian, British and Polish TV and feature films. Koman’s most prominent roles on the small screen include turns in multi-AFI Award winning The Secret Life of Us, East West 101,  and Simone de Beauvoir’s Babies. In cinemas, audiences have seen Koman in production like this year’s The Hunter, Australia, Romulus, My Father and Children of Men – but chances are you remember him best for his impassioned performance as the heartbroken, tangoing Argentinean in Moulin Rouge!

Although still relatively young in years, Todd Lasance is already a veteran of the small screen. Like so many young actors, he got his break on Home and Away, where he played the role of bad boy Aden Jeffries for several years. His performance brought him a Silver Logie for Most Popular Actor in 2009 and promised greater things to come. And 2011 seems to be the year when the promises have come true, with Lasance starring in some the year’s highest-profile TV production including Cloudstreet, Crownies, Rescue Special Ops and Underbelly Files: Tell Them Lucifer Was Here. Lasance is already lining up TV event movie Brothers in Arms for 2012, but it’s his turn as the troubled and sensitive Quick Lamb in Cloudstreet that sees Lasance nominated this year.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Diana Glenn. The Slap – Episode 3 ‘Harry’. ABC1
Rena Owen. East West 101, Season 3 – The Heroes’ Journey – Episode 18 ‘The Price Of Salvation’. SBS
Susie Porter. Sisters Of War. ABC1
Lara Robinson. Cloudstreet – Part 1. FOXTEL – Showcase

Diana Glenn’s quiet but sympathetic performance as the long-suffering wife of the unreconstructed Harry (Alex Dimitrades) in The Slap impressed juries this year, but she has a long film and television career behind her, stretching back to Neighbours in the late 90s, and progressing to top notch television drama series like The Secret Life of Us, Canal Road, Satisfaction, and Carla Cametti PD and film roles including performances in Somersault and Oyster Farmer. She was nominated for an AFI Award for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama for her work in Satisfaction, Series 1, and also nominated for a Silver Logie for that performance. This year, Glenn has also appeared in television series Killing Time.

After a string of TV appearances, New Zealand star Rena Owen shot to international prominence in 1994 through her roles in Kevin Costner’s Rapa Nui and international arthouse hit Once Were Warriors. Owen’s performance as Beth Heke in Once Were Warriors  propelled her into an international career that occasionally brings her to Australia, most memorably in Rolf de Heer’s Dance Me To My Song (for which she was nominated for an AFI Award in 1998). Most recently, Owen impressed juries with her AACTA nominated guest performance as a suffering mother of violent sons in an episode of East West 101, Season 3. A star in her native New Zealand, Owen has appeared in television series Adrenalin Junkies and Shortland Street, and will star in the upcoming Matchbox/ABC series set in northern Queensland, The Straits, alongside Aaron Fa’aoso, Brian Cox and Firass Dirani.

Susie Porter is one of Australia’s most decorated actresses, with a long string of memorable and award winning performances on her credit list. These include roles in Idiot Box, Amy, Better Than Sex, Teesh and Trude and Bootmen, and AFI Award winning turns in Caterpillar Wish (2006), Remote Area Nurse (RAN) (2006) and East West 101, Season 2 (2009). Most recently, Porter has been seen on screens in Richard Gray’s feature film Summer Coda, and as the hard-nosed Julia Wilson in comedy series The Jesters. Her nomination for an AACTA Award this year comes for her performance as the resilient Australian Army nurse in ABC telemovie Sisters of War opposite fellow nominee Sarah Snook.

It’s rare for an actor or actress to be nominated as Best Young Actor as well as being nominated alongside their adult co-stars in a major acting category, but Lara Robinson, who has only just turned 14, has achieved this feat. The young actress starred in 2009 feature film Knowing (as Abby/Lucinda), and has also appeared in City Homicide, The Elephant Princess and had a brief but startling scene in the remake of Long Weekend, but it’s her touching vulnerability and maturity in Cloudstreet, as the ethereally beautiful young Rose Pickles, which impressed judges this year. She’ll also be seen next year in television’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, alongside Essie Davis.

So there they are, the nominees for the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards for Best Lead Actor and Actress in a Television Drama; and Best Guest or Supporting Actor and Actress in a Television Drama.

The winners in these categories will be revealed on Tuesday 31 January at the Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony in Sydney, broadcast nationally on the Nine Network. Stay tuned to find out more…

You can click through to our Facebook page to see fun polls where you can let us know which of these nominees would be receiving the statuettes if it were up to you.

Why I Adore: Love My Way

Gnarly Family Trees: Truth, Beauty and Love My Way by Rochelle Siemienowicz

Love My Way, Series 1: Lou (Alex Cook) and Frankie (Claudia Karvan).

Love My Way, Series 1: Lou (Alex Cook) and Frankie (Claudia Karvan).

On a hill by the ocean sits a big white house. A man in a wetsuit returns from his early morning surf. Inside, a woman peers through the gaps in her blanket. The sun shining through creates mysterious patterns of colour and light. Not far away, in another house, a blonde babe climbs astride her sleeping man, arousing him in the nicest possible way until a little girl bounds into the room. ‘Where’s my school uniform?’ she pipes. ‘You were sexing,’ she adds with mild disgust. The woman rolls off, to reveal her satin nightgown straining over a hugely pregnant belly. It’s funny, true and a little bit wrong.

Welcome to a television world where the sun shines, the surf rolls and beautiful people with Australian accents live out their complicated romantic and domestic lives. But this certainly isn’t Home and Away or SeaChange, or even The Secret Life of Us. It isn’t even free-to-air television. It’s Foxtel’s Love My Way, arguably the first and finest Australian drama series created for Pay TV. Over the course of three series, aired from 2004 to 2007, Love My Way collected a huge stash of awards, attracted universal critical acclaim, and built a devoted fan-base that saw the network shift the show’s broadcast channel three times to capitalise on its popularity. Like many prestigious HBO dramas from the United States, it was on DVD that this Australian series probably found its real home and its most fervent fans, with boxed sets bought and borrowed at a frantic rate.

Love My Way

People like us. Key Cast from Love My Way: L-R: Brendan Cowell, Claudia Karvan, Asher Keddie & Dan Wyllie.

So, what makes Love My Way so special? Here’s a classic scene from the first episode: ‘This is my birth and I’ll do it how I fucking want to,’ says pregnant control-freak Julia (Asher Keddie) as she fills the wading pool in the courtyard, lighting aromatherapy candles for pain relief. Several hours later she’s screaming at the midwife and at her husband, Charlie (Dan Wyllie), when they suggest some Panadol.’Panadol! Haven’t you got anything else, I’m only two fucking centimetres dilated!’ As the ordeal progresses, she’s in the water, straining and splashing. Lovely, funny, irresponsible Charlie tries to support her and keep her afloat, but only with one arm – the other is firmly attached to his bottle of beer, as if he’ll drown without it. We’re later shown, quite matter-of-factly, the crimson cloud of blood and afterbirth staining the water; testament that Love My Way is prepared to get dirty and real.

Love My Way DVD cover Series 3Over the course of three seasons, the drama unflinchingly depicts things not often spotted on Australian television. For a start, candidly depicted sex is a key driver here, a central facet in every character’s life, whether they’re fifteen, thirty-five or fifty. Sometimes it’s good sex, often it’s bad. Sometimes it’s porn-fuelled masturbation, and occasionally, as we’ve seen, it happens in front of the children. Then there’s the casual and often inconsequential drug use – cocaine, ecstasy, ice and lots of dope. And don’t forget the kleptomania, the nymphomania, the lighting of farts, the biting of ears, and the grief, oh the endless, messy and almost unbearable grief of losing somebody you love. Yes, there’s pain and dirt aplenty, and thanks to superb scripting and naturalistic acting, it feels incredibly real.

This isn’t the kind of ‘dirty and real’ that we see in so much Australian cinema…

But this isn’t the kind of ‘dirty and real’ that we see in so much Australian cinema, where harsh lighting, bad skin and foul language combine to create a general low-rent ugliness – a tendency so pronounced that it’s a common accusation that our films are only about drug addicts, criminals and bogans. Instead, Love My Way is decidedly stylish and certainly middle-class. The characters might swear a lot, drink far too much (even when they’re breastfeeding) and suffer the odd embarrassing encounter with the law, but they’re living lives that look very good indeed. They’re architects, artists and chefs; people who wear casually assembled vintage clothes, go surfing every morning and attend the Walkley Awards for work. They sing karaoke to Crowded House songs, share barbecues with their exes and various new spouses and children, and have marital crises in Ikea showrooms, where they dream that ‘storage solutions’ might solve all their problems.

These are people like ‘us’, or the people we’d like to think we are – complex, flawed and cool, making our living in vaguely creative ways and living in somehow affordable but spectacular inner-city real estate. Mostly, though, they’re like ‘us’ because they’re trying to make the best of a family structure that bears only passing resemblance to the traditional nuclear model.

Claudia Karvan, star and co-creator of Love My Way.

Claudia Karvan, star and co-creator of Love My Way.

Claudia Karvan, the star and co-creator of Love My Way, has said that the series grew out of the observation that while the harrowing divorce-drama Kramer vs Kramer reflected the way families broke up in the 1970s, nowadays people seem to handle it better. Her character Frankie is a case in point. She’s in her early thirties and a single mother to the impish eight-year-old Lou (Alex Cook). While it’s not always easy sharing custody with Lou’s father, Charlie, and his new wife Julia, it’s managed with admirable honesty and only the occasional screaming match. These characters own keys to each other’s houses, and Frankie remains on intimate terms with Charlie’s parents (Max Cullen and Lynette Curran). She even shares her house (and sometimes her bed) with Charlie’s brother, the blunt and sparky Tom (Brendan Cowell).

Here, the modern family tree is an overgrown mess of branches growing out of the dirt of broken love stories and abandoned vows.

When little Lou is asked to draw a family tree for a school project, she titles it ‘My Family Up a Tree’ – an allusion to the family’s craziness, but also to the way she happily exists at the trunk of it. The set up makes perfect and natural sense to her child’s mind.

The series takes as its central premise the idea that strangely beautiful fruit can grow on these gnarly family trees: ex-partners who understand each other deeply and make each other laugh; stepmothers who prove to be cranky and sweet, rather than wicked; and new babies born into a tangle of adopted aunties and uncles. Naturally, such trees are prone to their own peculiar thorns and diseases. Hostility and resentment often break through, as does latent sexual tension. Money is always an issue, and new additions to the family, whether through birth, marriage or friendship, cause already clouded dynamics to shift and change. It makes for great and absorbing drama.

LMW Series 3 Julia and Charlie and Toby (Asher Keddie, Dan Wyllie & Byron Chaplain)

'The way a marriage can turn sour in one conversation, and recover with one well-timed joke." Asher Keddie and Dan Wyllie create one of the most convincing married couples ever seen on Australian television. Image from Series 3 of Love My Way.

The general concept of large and messy family groupings is nothing new for television drama, and of course it’s a staple of soap opera. It’s certainly a recurrent theme for Southern Star producer John Edwards. With other collaborators, he is also the creator of a mini-genre that began with The Secret Life of Us (Channel Ten, 2001-2004), a show that was more about friends who form a family. Then came Love My Way, followed by Foxtel Showcase drama Tangle, having this year broadcast its second season, with a third on the way – a noir-ish tale of family life set in Melbourne suburbia. Then Edwards is also involved with Channel Ten’s hit comedy drama series Offspring, about a neurotic thirty-something obstetrician (Asher Keddie) and her ‘fabulously messy family’.

The writing is so good in Love My Way that there’s hardly a clichéd exchange or a predictable plot development. And yet it feels so familiar, the way that a marriage can turn sour in one conversation, and recover with one well timed joke; or the way that a friend can suddenly become a lover or an adversary.

It’s impossible to write about Love My Way without mentioning the incredible physical beauty of the production.

A team of accomplished writers was responsible for such great scripting, including Karvan herself, along with film and television veteran and series co-creator Jacquelin Perske, playwright Tony McNamara and actor/playwright Brendan Cowell. Working in collaboration, they pooled ideas and themes from their own experiences of marriage, divorce, parenthood and working life. It’s the way the characters speak to each other that feels so refreshing and real. It’s often brutal, with a disarming lack of etiquette. As Tom tells Frankie one morning when she’s recounting a dream from which she’s freshly awoken: ‘Don’t tell me your dreams. Other people’s dreams bore the shit out of me.’ And he’s not being aggressive or angry. It’s just a matter of fact.

It’s impossible to write about Love My Way without mentioning the incredible physical beauty of the production. It’s not just the good-looking cast and stunning Sydney locations. It’s the craft we’re talking about here – from the cinematography, to the production and costume design. The gorgeous opening credits, repeated over the three seasons, signpost the visual tone and saturated colour scheme that continues into the show itself. They’re worth looking at closely. (In fact these are the first 10 minutes of the first episode, and I predict you’ll want to watch every single one of them.)


These opening credits are set underwater, with a sea-green background and the sunlight filtering down through bubbles. The characters appear to be floating and swimming, suspended in light and water. Karvan’s hair drifts in the current like seaweed, and her clothes of red and green gleam like a mermaid’s tail. Bringing humour and levity to the painterly scene, other actors, like Dan Wyllie and Lynette Curran, mug and grin through goggles as they swim in front of the camera. Complementing these visuals is a soundscape that’s both nostalgic and otherworldly, yet with a forward-thrusting energy. It’s The Psychedelic Furs’ early 1980s hit ‘Love My Way’, performed this time by Magic Dirt – wonderfully evocative, though maddeningly repetitive if you happen to sit through too many DVD episodes at a time…

The aesthetic beauty of Love My Way, its cinematic production values, extends from the opening credits into every single scene of the series. In fact, it’s possible to freeze almost any frame of the show and find a beautiful composition of colour, light and form, especially in those scenes containing Karvan, with her angular frame and her solemnly beautiful face. In a recent critique of Australian cinema, Louis Nowra berated our filmmakers for failing to engage in the full and lingering romance of the human face on the big screen. Love My Way has such a romance, albeit on the small screen, and it’s compelling enough to suggest he may be right: we need more of this.

Love My Way is proudly ‘arty’. One of its central themes is the quest to create art and to use one’s life in the work. Frankie is an artist. She inhabits many other roles – as mother, lover and friend – but at her core is the need to filter what she sees and feels into her work; to make it live again through paint on canvas. She has to constantly fight against the demands of those other roles – childcare and paid work, especially, are always sucking away at her painting time. It’s a reality that any creative parent is bound to recognise.

Love My Way Series 1. Alex Cook as Lou

Proudly 'arty' a central theme of Love My Way is a woman's struggle to be an artist, mother and lover. Alex Cook as Lou.

Unlike so many films that deal superficially with the creative process, whether of writing, composing music, or painting, Love My Way, as a television series, can sustain and explore the theme of what it really means to be an artist and a woman, and demonstrate the way these things are inseparable for this character. Frankie’s work is informed in Series One by her dreams and her fears, and finally by her very great and overwhelming grief. By Series Three she is fighting for her simple right to be an artist, with her cocky new husband, Lewis (Ben Mendelsohn), teasing her and saying that if she really were an artist she would do it more compulsively, instead of finding excuses. Her outrage is palpable.

Lewis and Frankie (Ben Mendelsohn & Claudia Karvan in Series 3 of Love My Way).

Cocky, erratic and irresistible, Lewis (Ben Mendelsohn) is a challenge to Frankie in Series 3.

Not only does she have to manage Lewis’s erratic behaviour, manic spending and his annoying teenage son (who’s suddenly materialised on the doorstep), but she’s now being asked to justify and prove the very thing that is at the heart of her identity! It’s only when she begins to create again, at the conclusion of Series Three, by making a beautiful and dreamlike tribute to the ghosts of her past, that Frankie can again approach wholeness.

The operative word here is ‘approach’, because Love My Way is far too honest and life-like to ever attempt storylines that present characters as finally or fully redeemed, healed or completed. Resolution is only ever temporary and conditional. As John Edwards, the co-creator of the series, has said: ‘The great lie of television is that things get resolved.’ The genius of Love My Way is that it works within that lie – as a successful television drama that satisfies the need we have for stories to be beautiful, to have endings; for characters to find meaning and transcendence. But at the same time, it’s realistic enough, and convincing enough, to have us believe that Frankie and Lewis, and Julia and Charlie, and all the rest of that surprisingly functional family might be out there, living new stories in their complicated lives. Even if we’re not watching.

A version of this article was originally published in Kill Your Darlings, Issue 2, July 2010.

 

Note: Love My Way at the AFI Awards

In an astonishing run, Love My Way recieved the AFI Award for Best Television Drama Series three years in a row – 2005, 2006 and 2007. The series also won multiple other AFI Awards and nominations. They are all listed below.

 2005

Won: AFI Award for Best Direction in Television – Jessica Hobbs
Won: AFI Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actor in Television – Max Cullen
Won: AFI Award for Best Lead Actress in Television – Claudia Karvan
Won: AFI Award for Best Screenplay in Television – Jacquelin Perske
Won: AFI Award for Best Television Drama Series – John Edwards and Claudia Karvan

Nominated: AFI Award for Best Lead Actor in Television – Dan Wyllie
Nominated: AFI Award for Outstanding Achievement in Craft in Television – Louis Irving (cinematography)

2006

Won: AFI Award for Best Television Drama Series – John Edwards, Claudia Karvan, Jaquelin Perske

Nominated: AFI Award for Best Direction in Television – Shirley Barrett
Nominated: AFI Award for Best Lead Actor in Television Drama – Dan Wyllie
Nominated: AFI Award for Best Lead Actress in Television Drama – Claudia Karvan
Nominated: AFI Award for Best Lead Actress in Television Drama – Asher Keddie
Nominated: AFI Award for Best Screenplay in Television – Jacquelin Perske

2007

Won: AFI Award for Best Television Drama Series – John Edwards, Claudia Karvan
Won: AFI Award for Best Lead Actress in Television Drama – Claudia Karvan

Nominated: AFI Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actress in Television Drama – Justine Clarke
Nominated: AFI Award for Best Lead Actor in Television Drama – Ben Mendelsohn
Nominated: AFI Award for Best Screenplay in Television – Tony McNamara

Read Previous ‘Why I Adore’ Posts:

Paul Anthony Nelson (the ‘Why I Adore’ godfather and founder) introduces the concept, and rhapsodises about Mad Max. AFI Membership Administrator Lia McCrae-Moore revisits the lyrical beauty of One Night the Moon and Clem Bastow reminisces about a childhood spent watching the television show Round the Twist. Or you can read Anthony Morris flirting with disaster in his adoration of Romper Stomper, Annie Stevens going bridal with Muriel’s Wedding, or Popzilla bowing down before the altar of literary screen adaptations. Most recently, Lia McCrae-Moore showers affection on SBS’s high-octane police thriller, East West 101.

Contribute: We’re currently looking for more ’Why I Adore’ articles devoted to Australian film and television. Send a one paragraph summary to editor[at] afi.org.au and we’ll get back to you with more details.