Matt Saville’s Felony wins plaudits in Toronto

12 September, 2013 by Don Groves

The Twittersphere lit up with ecstatic responses to Matt Saville’s Australian thriller Felony after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The plaudits flew for the performances by Joel Edgerton, Tom Wilkinson and Jai Courtney, Edgerton’s smart screenplay and for Saville’s direction.


In the Goalpost Pictures production Edgerton plays a decorated cop who runs a cyclist off the road after drinking with his buddies to celebrate a major gang bust. Wilkinson is a senior cop who is complicit in the cover-up. Courtney is a fresh-faced detective who suspects Edgerton’s character is lying and gradually builds a case against him.

South African writer-director Donovan Marsh tweeted, “Just saw the amazing Australian film FELONY with Tom Wilkinson, so sensitive, so beautifully directed.” (Marsh's crime drama iNumber Number premiered at TIFF in the Contemporary World Cinema program).

Shane Smith, Director, Public Programmes for TIFF Bell Lightbox, said: “Felony is an intelligent, thought-provoking dive into the murky waters of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.”

Toronto-based marketing executive Eusis Dougan-McKenzie tweeted, “Felony beautifully written by Joel Edgerton, another great TIFF film.”

Mairlyn Smith, an alumnus of the Second City Comedy Troupe, commented, “”Kudos to Joel Edgerton & his thought provoking brilliant film…his script as well as the cast was a tour de force.”

From Samantha Dickson: "Felony captured my heart, not only is Joel Edgerton an amazing actor he is a fantastic writer.”

Daniel Reynolds: "A concise movie about the moral ambiguities found in police work and everyday life. Ending goes a bit soft."

Saville drew laughs at the Toronto Q&A with remarks like this: "Sending the script to Tom was like asking a hot chick in a bar if she'd like a drink."

The first reviews posted online were mixed. "Directed with contained intensity and sharp character observation by Matthew Saville, the brooding thriller covers familiar territory but does so with sustained tension and psychological complexity," said The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney.

The Guardian’s Paul MacInnes judged the thriller “is smart enough to send us – and the film – in unexpected directions.”  He continued, “Concerning as it does a conspiracy amongst Australian cops you might expect this drama, both written by and starring Joel Edgerton, to be a violent, brawny study in machismo. Instead it takes a number of familiar ideas and quietly nudges them into fresh territory. The emphasis being on 'quietly.'''

His review concludes, “One man is guilty of a crime, one tries to cover it up, and one tries to expose it — the collisions of these characters make for one of the year's best thrillers.”

Rope of Silicon's Brad Bravet acknowledged the film has some high points but opined that, after the first half, "all the intrigue fades away as you begin to realise there is nothing left for the story to tell."

Edgerton produced the film with Michael Benaroya of Benaroya Pictures and Goalpost's Rosemary Blight. Roadshow will release the film in Australia next year.