MPAA rating (or equivalent): Rsexual content
This whimsical Australian comedy tells the story of two young women in the small fictitious town of Sunray, which could just as well be in the middle of Iowa or Nebraska, a grain producing center on a large river with a sizeable sport fishing appeal.
Into this desert setting comes a one-time big name in Brisbane broadcasting, Ken Sherry, who takes over Sunray's small FM radio station and, despite being homelier than (and even resembling) Howard Stern, is considered a hot catch. Vicki-Ann, the older sister once engaged, considers herself to have first dibs on their new next-door neighbor, as Sherry has been married thrice before and is, after all, closer to Vicki-Ann's age than 20-year-old Dimitry's.
And as every fairy tale that touches the subject attests, it's the rightful expectation of the older sister to be married first. On the other hand, the quiet and repressed Dimitry is still a virgin and figures it's her turn to be the one to get some experience in sexual matters.
Though Vicki-Ann virtually throws herself at the seemingly stoic Sherry, he is no more than bemused by her desperation. The quieter Dimitry, who waits on him in the local Chinese restaurant, interests him more, and when she mentions her interest in fishing, he says, "Well, I've got a big fish. Why don't you come over to my house and see it later on?" After seeing the marlin mounted and hanging under spotlights on Ken Sherry's wall, Dimitry offers to help Sherry overcome his occasional loneliness by stripping for him. Needless to say, one thing leads to another and Vicki-Ann is soon knocked out of her place in queue.
Sherry's taste in music runs to soulful romantic songs like Barry White's, which form the backdrop for the entire film. The crux of the plot is revealed when Dimitry's boss, the Chinese restaurateur Albert, challenges him about playing nothing but "songs about procreation" on his radio station. Sherry answers over the air in his mellow radio deejay voice and, though his reasoning sounds poetic, his answer amounts to, "I play songs mostly about having sex because having sex is all there is in life." Reduced to its bare bones, Love Serenade is little more than an exploration of the advice columnist's bromide that (too often) women use sex to get love; men use love to get sex. Though Sherry is quite honest about what he is doing, the women are too engaged in their own pursuits to see it. But when they finally do, the story takes a surprising twist. Without giving away more, I'll just say that in the end the resemblance of the grain elevator bangs and clanks to underwater sonar sounds seems more understandable.
With its sultry love songs, generally upbeat view of life, and affirmation of human culture and aspiration even in the middle of nowhere, Love Serenade makes a worthwhile date movie or diversion. Though never deeper than the local river, it's fun, and it's both familiar territory and a travelogue wrapped up in one package. It makes me think that Fargo could just as well have taken place in Australia as Minnesota, and that's a good day's lesson.
Photo © by the film's distributor
© 1997, Jon Kennedy