; 400x60

click here to see our uploads list
click for new
Film Reviews, Festivale movie section, a reel life
click here for current front page

Festivale online magazine
A Reel Life film section
the Sound of One Hand Clapping movie review

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

From the haunting book comes the haunting film – The Sound of One Hand Clapping is by no one’s standards an easy film to watch or enjoy. I haven’t read the book myself, but since the writer (Richard Flanagan) is also the film’s director, it’s a fairly safe bet that what is on the screen is in close context with what Flanagan has written.

36 year old Sonja Buloh hasn’t had an easy path down the road of life – her mother abandoned her at the age of two, had various physical and emotional troubles through childhood and was driven to move away from her alcoholic father Bojan when she was sixteen. Now, twenty years later (and pregnant), Sonya visits him in Tasmania after all those years of absence. She discovers Bojan is distraught and aggrieved, drained of all emotion and resorting to a life of booze and cigarettes. As Sonja begins to piece together hidden parts of her childhood, and the dark secrets of her families past, we begin to realize the severity of the pain has been subjected to. Through a draining collection of fragments from her own experiences, a detailed portrait of Sonja’s suffering is powerfully painted.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping is a prime example of how one character can be carved into tragically different, isolated others. There are three main versions of Sonja Suloh – the three-year-old (Arabella Wain), eight year old (Rosie Flanagan) and the present day Sonja (Kerry Fox).

Through frequent flashbacks the film jumps to different times in her life, and what is impressive about this is that we are able to accurately feel the sadness and joy from most of her previous experiences. What is not impressive is that these versions of Sonja are separated far too much, so her character can never truly entrance us or keep us eagerly watching.

Amazon.com logo
Search for:
UK's largest videos store

There are a few other things that irritated me about the film: the dialogue is bewildering and a little sluggish, and the “Scooby Doo Family Mystery” isn’t all that entertaining.

What The Sound of One Hand Clapping does deliver, however, is consistent to the style it sets early in the film – so if you’re lucky, you can be impressed from start to finish. But on the other hand, you could hate it all too…. Either way, compliments have to be made: Kristof Kaczmarek brings an energetic and sensual presence to his role, Australian cinematographer Martin McGrath (A Little Bit of Soul, Muriels Wedding) successfully captures the beauty of the Tasmanian landscape and Cezary Skubiszewski’s resplendent music composition is notably enjoyable.

If you’re prepared to be exhausted and depressed by an overworked yet still impressive flick, The Sound of One Hand Clapping may hit the right note.

Click here to buy films from one of the online stores in Festivale's on-line shopping mall From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 3 stars

Review © copyright Luke Buckmaster
For credits and official site details, click here.
Search Festivale for more

Bookmark and Share

Like us on facebook

Send your comments or review
Check out what's happening in Reel Life

Enter movie, TV show, or person
Provided by Internet Movie Database.
Just the facts:

Title: The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1998)
Written by: Richard Flanagan
Directed by:
Director of Photography: Martin McGrath

The Players: Richard Flanagan
Official website
For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.
Bookmark and Share

Like us on facebook

A Reel Life, the Festivale film sectionMovie Reviews IndexClick here to go to our links to movie sitesContact us at Festivale
Movie images, sounds, and video clips are solely owned by their respective companies.
No other uses are permitted without the prior written consent of owner.
Use of the material in violation of the foregoing may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.


Festivale Online Magazine
Celebrate everything!

ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
disclaimers | contact the editor | Festivale revision history

: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: Apr-1998 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)

Report a bug

Movies by month, coming attractions, Australian movie release datesIndex of movie reviewscontents of current FestivaleA Reel Life movie section