Mr Inbetween, the little show that could be Australian TV folklore
It’s been almost 20 years since Scott Ryan envisioned a character destined to become part of Australian screen folklore. And a story that perfectly illustrates how, from small things, big things can grow. At the time, he was studying multimedia at RMIT. A staff member suggested that a feature film he had planned about a hitman was unlikely to be a viewer, but Ryan refused to give up on the idea. With a budget of around $ 3000, he shot the first version of The magician intermittently over a three-year period, ending with an 88-minute outage. In 2003, the film won awards at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. But, when movie distributors weren’t flocking, he cut it down to 30 minutes and signed it up for the 2004 St Kilda Film Festival. At the behest of Sydney filmmaker Nash Edgerton, Ryan restored the film lengthwise, adding footage he’d previously discarded and generally restructuring and polishing the material. The film was released in a limited version nationwide in 2005.
A mock documentary filmed in the back alleys of Melbourne and on the outskirts of Moe, this is a low budget gem born in the wake of pulp Fiction (1995), its DNA imbued with a deliciously dark humor. The gloriously Australian mode of understatement and understatement also characterized the television series that followed.
Alas, while it eventually opened in the United States with generally positive reviews, the film made minimal deals at the Australian box office and vanished almost without a trace. What he left behind, however, is Ray, the hitman who is the main character in Mr. in-between. The series’ third and final season is currently taking place on Fox Showcase.
Written by Ryan, directed by Edgerton and produced by Michele Bennett for Jungle Entertainment and Blue-Tongue Films (of which Edgerton is a founding member), the first series was made for F / X in the United States and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018. Shortly after, it screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival ahead of its TV premiere on Foxtel a few weeks later.
As The magician earned its title from Ray’s ability to wipe out bodies, Mr. in-between refers to its place in the general scheme of things. He’s the middleman: someone hires him to do “a job,” usually bar owner Freddy (Damon Herriman), and he does it to a poor, unsuspecting idiot.
The series is a portrayal of the hitman as an ordinary guy who plays by his own rules: “If I hit someone, I usually have a pretty good reason,” he explained in the first season. He cares about his family and is loyal to those he considers friends, like Gary (Justin Rosniak) and Dave (the always reliable Matt Nable). He understands why his ex-wife (Natalie Tran) jumped the fence and why his paramedic girlfriend Ally (Brooke Satchwell) might find her brutal pleas too hard to take. But he is a loving father to his now 12-year-old daughter Brittany (Chika Yasumura) and was a caring caregiver for his brother Bruce (Nicholas Cassim), who had suffered from motor neuron disease.
Ryan’s wonderful performance provides the glue that holds everything together. His character is a ruthless killer to hire, but, without taking the edge off the rough edges, the actor makes you worry about him when what you think you must be feeling is utter loathing.