Pawno is an independent Australian drama, with a definite earthy comic edge, that sits within the roots of Footscray, a suburb of Melbourne, and tells the stories of a number of individual characters and their lives that unconsciously reach out to each other across a small shopping market. Written and starring Damian Hill, and directed by Paul Ireland, they offer up a fine ensemble of light-hearted jesting and dark reality but, somehow, all entwined it works on a real genuine level, and reflects things and people I’ve known, and what we all do just to get by and get on.
Set on one hot day and in specifically around a Pawn Shop where Danny (Hill) works alongside the owner Les (John Brumpton), who’s not afraid to say what he thinks or be in charge when it matters. The shop is a centrepiece for all the characters that come and go throughout, and therefore a clever setting when you’re looking to portray people who are just on the edge of all kinds of moments in their lives.
And here’s what’s important about Pawno; the individuality of everyone involved and the fact that they don’t hold back on who they are, quite or loud, each has their own story. Damian Hill’s Danny is the lead of the film and is very likeable; he truly shares the stage with Brumpton’s magnificent Les, the owner of the business. Les is somewhat in that Peter Mullan-character-mould and very much his own man, all brutal and direct in his approach but there’s a soft spot underneath. Hill’s Danny is a hard-working man but appears to have something else going for him and you’ll learn of that as the film develops, and also the beginnings of something with Maeve Dermody’s excellent Kate, who is important to the progression.
The pairing of Mark Coles Smith’s Pauly and Malcolm Kennard’s Carlo is sublime, they’re two guys who are between living on the street and on the basics but they’re charming, annoying, brash and honest all at the same time. It highlights that all kinds of people can get on, if they’re the only people they know but there’s also a deeper, sadder connection to their story and, no spoilers, it is worth discovering.
Pawno is a solid multiple-character piece that’s equally charming, poignant, and natural. It’s filmed with clever edits, cuts and free-flowing scenes that reflect the street scene that it’s based in and because of these factors you end up feeling that you’re part of their day. It’s full of really funny one-liners, character traits and observations as it unravels the relationships we all have with fellow human beings but doesn’t shy from the dark, sometimes brutal nature of what we do to try and get to those better places. Pawno is a thought-provoking, unpretentious indie that doesn’t hide from the boredom of the stupid things we do to get by, or the hope we put in those around us.