“Tell ’em they’re dreamin'”
The Castle was the first feature-length offering from the creative team behind the hit Aussie comedy TV series, Frontline. They succeeded in producing a hilarious low-budget film that has no pretensions about what it is or the story it has to tell.
Dale Kerrigan (Stephen Curry), the 16-year-old narrator, begins by telling us his story, the story of his family, the Kerrigans. They live in a dumpy house adjacent to the airport and framed by power lines and cyclone fencing.
His father, Darryl (Michael Caton), is a loving man committed to his family and his greyhounds and is constantly thinking up plans to improve the house for his family – patios, mezzanine levels, extensions – and never finishing them.
Dale’s mother, Sal (Anne Tenney), is just as devoted to her family, and is loved for her cooking and her handcraft skills evident around the house.
Brother Steve (Anthony Simcoe) is what his dad calls “an ideas man”, and has something of an eye for a bargain in the Trading Post, while older brother Wayne (Wayne Hope) is in gaol for armed robbery, but misses his family terribly and longs to get out.
Sister Tracey (Sophie Lee) is the family’s pride and joy. Not only did she get her hairdressing certificate at Sunshine College of TAFE, but she was called down on The Price Is Right and almost won the whole showcase. She has just married Con (Eric Bana), a man the family have grown to love as one of their own.
The Kerrigans are a happy, content and comfortable family until a property assessor turns up at their door to do a valuation of their house. Soon afterwards, they receive a letter stating their house has been compulsorily acquired so the airport can build a storage facility.
Darryl is not at all happy about this; his house is his home – his castle – and he is not prepared to give up without a fight.
With the unwilling help of Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora), the solicitor who represented Wayne, Darryl takes his fight to the Federal Court with a hilariously unprepared case and, not surprisingly, loses. But during a court recess, Darryl meets Lawrence Hammill (Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell), a retired QC specialising in constitutional law, who offers to represent the Kerrigans’ case in the High Court in Canberra.
It’s a simple film but the humour is sophisticated and effective.
Produced independently, The Castle was shot on Super 16 during an 11-day shoot, edited in a similar time and then transferred to 35mm.
The filming location for the Kerrigan home was 3 Dagonet Street in the Melbourne airport-side suburb of Strathmore.
“This is going straight to the pool room”
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell
Federal Court Judge