Romancing Sydney – (2013) By Philip Smolen

Sachin (Anmol Mishra) is a lonely young man working in an antique shop in Sydney Australia with his co-worker George (Peter Hayes) who secretly has a crush on their boss Lilli (Gabrielle Chan). On his way home one night, Sachin’s car breaks down and he’s forced to park near the Sydney waterfront. There he meets the sobbing Elisa (Susanne Ritcher) a visiting dancer who has been thrown out of her apartment. Sachin does his best to comfort Elisa and this leads to a blossoming relationship. The couple then spends many nights learning about each other and walking along the beautiful streets of Sydney. Meanwhile Elisa has a friend named Alex (Connor Dowling) who is engaged to the irritating Zac (Brendon Wong) who runs a local gymnasium. Alex and Zac want to get married, but that doesn’t seem likely since Zac hasn’t even told his parents that he’s gay. To make matters worse, Zac doesn’t like Sachin and torments him every chance he gets. Will any of these couples overcome their foibles and find true happiness and love in the Land of Oz?

“Romancing Sydney” is a new rom/com with dance numbers from first time writer/director Anmol Mishra and it’s a valiant attempt to try and re-invent the classic musical comedies from Hollywood’s golden years. Mishra juxtaposes the stumbling romantic missteps of his flawed characters with lovely dances that are meant to represent their unbridled inner passions for one another. The dance numbers are well staged and dreamy and add a level of sophistication to the film.

Unfortunately, the dance numbers are the best aspect of the film. Mishra’s screenplay draws all of the characters in broad, lumpy strokes and doesn’t refine their quirky personalities. They simply aren’t very interesting. Sachin comes off as an idiot savant, capable of some very tender moments with Elisa, but who is also extremely cruel when dealing with Zac. Elisa is a breathy soul who is untethered and lost. Zac is a total jerk whose motivations are totally unknown.

The film’s energy level also varies wildly throughout. It rises to wonderful heights during the dance sequences and then dramatically falls off whenever it focuses on the characters. “Romancing Sydney” is also let down by the cast. For the most part the actors don’t give their characters the sparkle that they need. The exception is Gabrielle Chan as Lilli. She’s funny and appealing and the film comes to life whenever she’s onscreen.

“Romancing Sydney” briefly shines during its dance numbers, but fails to keep you interested in the standard romantic problems of its cast. It’s an indie film whose ambitions outweigh its execution. That’s a shame because cinema could really use a great dance romantic comedy right about now.

For more information on “Romancing Sydney”, please go to: http://www.mishra.tv/wordpress


UPDATE (Per the Director):

The audio has been redone via ADR and the scenes that received criticism in terms of acting or dialogue have been cut.
The film has gotten into a few film festivals since then and won an award.
The current length of the film is 96:57 secs.