Perhaps Fantasy Man is a comedy. It’s hard to tell. Perhaps it’s a satire? There are moments when the menopausal melodramatics of Nick Bailey (Harold Hopkins) approach the burlesque.
But what makes this Australian telemovie about a man in a mid-life crisis bewildering is that it also needles the viewer into taking seriously the problems of the lead character.
Not that a miserable menopausal male should not be taken seriously. We sympathise with menopausal women so why not men? Unfortunately, the character of Nick Bailey is so exaggerated that it is hard to feel anything other than aggravation for such a jerk.
The film is about the inner disturbances of Bailey, an otherwise normal human being with an understanding wife, office job and a comfortable one-bedroom apartment. Nick takes to moaning in the shower, refusing to eat his packed lunch, mooching near a hamburger van and generally being impossibly selfish.
His wife, Liz (Jeanie Drynan) is concerned but patient. Betty (Kate Fitzpatrick), the couple’s next-door neighbour, is more anxious and forecasts doom. She plays nosey marriage counsellor because she has nothing better to do.
But Nick shrugs off Betty’s attempts and his discontent seeks release in fantasies (hence the title). The film then slips into the realms of the ridiculous while he amuses himself with corny dreams.
There is only one performance worth noting, from John Howitt. He plays Howard the office homosexual and Nick’s friend. Although his character is blandly stereotyped as an object of derision, Howitt brings an element of style to “Howie”.
Beyond that, the whole thing is baffling, inane and eventually tiresome.