The Merger, now showing at Albury’s Regent Cinemas, is Australian-made, filmed mostly in Wagga and involving people from throughout the Riverina.
All good reasons to go along and watch but, thankfully, far from the only ones.
In this season of football finals, the tale of a struggling club rising from the ashes, sometimes literally, hits a timely, warm-hearted and often-hilarious note.
Produced by the team behind Backyard Ashes, The Merger sees former football star Troy Carrington (Damian Callinan), no longer a favourite son, take on the Bodgy Creek coaching role.
With the club lacking cash, facilities and players, Carrington recruits refugees, helped by refugee support worker Angie Barlow (Kate Mulvany) and her son Neil (Rafferty Grierson).
The plan meets resistance, chiefly from Neil’s grandfather and former club president Bull Barlow (John Howard), but slowly the players come together and their football starts to match the quality of their mime football – go see it to understand.
Carrington’s dry one-liners are a delight, but The Merger is more than the one-man show by Callinan that inspired it.
Young Neil’s blunt observations steal many a scene while all the ensemble cast easily hold their own.
Of the recruits, Sayyid (Fayssal Bazzi) stands out for both his play and his growing friendship with Bull, founded on their shared experience of loss.
Not that Sayyid is without flaw – he can hog the ball as well as anyone and false modesty isn’t one of his football weapons.
His teammates, on and off the field, are a diverse lot, but in the end Bodgy Creek shows itself big enough to include all.
Much of the film’s humour is broad, but poignant touches emerge, such as when Bull’s wife Fran (Penny Cook) reveals a brief but searing glimpse of an ongoing grief.
The Merger aims to entertain and its methods aren’t exactly rocket science.
But then again, neither are tolerance, understanding and compassion, all of which you’ll find here too.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here