September 16th, 2004



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Still of Cate Shortland in SomersaultStill of Abbie Cornish in SomersaultStill of Sam Worthington in SomersaultAbbie CornishStill of Abbie Cornish and Sam Worthington in SomersaultStill of Abbie Cornish in Somersault

New experiences help a young girl learn the differences between sex and love.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 6.8/10 (4,014 voted)

Critic's Score: 73/100

Director: Cate Shortland

Stars: Abbie Cornish, Sam Worthington, Lynette Curran

Coming of age: Heidi, 15, runs away from home after her mom sees her kissing mom's boyfriend. She goes to a Snowy River resort where a vague job offer doesn't pan out. She manages to find a place to live and a job at a convenience store. She's between childhood -- nursery rimes and a scrapbook of glittery unicorns - and adulthood - working, sorting out emotions and sexuality, and dealing with social slights and false charges of bad behavior. She's attractive and her loneliness makes her vulnerable. She sleeps with Joe, the son of local ranchers, and she awakens in him feelings he can't express. Is there any way she can put off adulthood and be a kid awhile longer?

Abbie Cornish - Heidi
Damian de Montemas - Adam
Olivia Pigeot - Nicole
Alex Babic - Brian the barman
Elizabeth Muntar - Ticket Vendor
Justin Martin - Guy
Ben Tate - Sean
Joshua Phillips - Josh
Sam Worthington - Joe
Nathaniel Dean - Stuart
Paul Gleeson - Roy
Bruce Ross - Staring Man
Lynette Curran - Irene
John Sheerin - Pat
Anne-Louise Lambert - Martha (as Anne Louise Lambert)

Taglines: Love can turn you upside down.


Official Website: Official site [Germany] |

Release Date: 16 September 2004

Filming Locations: Australia

Opening Weekend: AUD 70,769 (Australia) (12 September 2004) (21 Screens)

Gross: $92,214 (USA) (29 June 2006)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Germany: (TV version)

Did You Know?

Took 7 years to make.

Revealing mistakes: When Joe pours hot water onto the icy windscreen of his car, no steam appears.

User Review

The pain of young love, complete with an anti-male feminist slant


Those who haven't understood Somersault's main themes or appreciated it as a perceptive piece of film-making may well be afflicted with the same delusional shortcomings of its characters: an inability to connect with others, or to have them connect with you. I've not seen a film that condenses and represents the small-town Australian mindset so well, presenting it through a minimalist script that relies on good acting, and using a paradoxical setting (cold, bleak and snowy Jindabyne rather than a stereotypical Australian locale). Sure there's little in the way of plot because this is gritty realism, not fanciful escapism; this is a film to get you thinking, not sitting boggle-eyed at a pageant of movement and dialog.

The central theme of Somersault is young males, females and how they dance around each other in the search for intimacy, almost always failing and causing each other enormous pain in the process. Men come out of this depiction far worse, as this is undoubtedly a feminist portrayal of the gender wars. The male characters have equal portions of tragedy, hurtful indifference and stupidity: Joe, Heidi's love interest, simply cannot share intimate moments, communicate his feelings or even admit that he has them; he can have plenty of sex, of course, but emotion seems beyond him. When he finally does encounter a moment of pause about his relationship with Heidi, he propositions the local homosexual in the mistaken belief that this 'weakness' might mean he is gay. The other male figure presented are Heidi's mother's lecherous boyfriend, various tourist-types solely on the lookout for sex, and two fathers, one who is wooden and emotionless, the other a manipulative liar ... hardly an appealing mob.

Heidi, however, is an engaging character whose naive attempts to win affection are painful. At once child-like and innocent yet womanly and sexual, her exploitation, isolation and rejection are bitter and tragic; like most teenagers she struggles to learn from her mistakes and merely rebounds to the next. A scene in a Chinese restaurant where she swallows an entire bowl of chilies is symbolic of the self-torture that young women often force themselves to endure in failing relationships. Strongly acted by Abbie Cornish, Heidi's eventual redemption is not unpredictable but nor is it overplayed or overemphasized ... and when it does come it seems welcome, even happy. Somersault plays like one long life-lesson, though its themes and implications are timeless and universal for all young people. A well-crafted film whose only fault is a tendency to overstate its men-as-villains and women-as-victims premise.


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