Accidents Happen

January 3rd, 2009


Accidents Happen

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There are dysfunctional families... and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom...

Release Year: 2009

Rating: 6.1/10 (1,489 voted)

Director: Andrew Lancaster

Stars: Geena Davis, Harrison Gilbertson, Harry Cook

There are dysfunctional families... and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom, distant brother, and stoic dad. But when Billy starts to act out, everything changes for him and his family.

Geena Davis - Gloria Conway
Harrison Gilbertson - Billy Conway
Harry Cook - Larry Conway
Joel Tobeck - Ray Conway
Sebastian Gregory - Doug Post
Sarah Woods - Dottie Post
Morgan Griffin - Katrina Post
Troy Planet - Tiny Post
Erik Thomson - Bob
Viva Bianca - Becky
Rebecca Massey - Louise
Katrina Retallick - Connie Conway-Kellywood (as Katrina Retalick)
Jayden Hall - Ricky Kellywood
Damien Garvey - Officer Passman
Peter Lamb - Officer Barret


Official Website: Official site |

Release Date: 3 Jan 2009

Filming Locations: Fox Studios, Moore Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Box Office Details

Budget: AUD 6,000,000 (estimated)

Technical Specs


Gloria Conway: I've got static to watch.

User Review

Showcase of solid characterization, screen writing and performances

Rating: 8/10

Accidents Happen – Sydney Film Festival, June 2009 I was sold on this film by a description of Geena Davis who "shines as the screwball mother". The SFF program seemed to promise a screwball family comedy, with Davis' fearlessness in performance carrying the required bravado. So I was surprised when the opening sequence, a slow-motion shot of a playing child interrupted by an elderly neighbour accidentally barbecuing himself, suggested another tone was in the offing: a coming-of-age black comedy. That combination works well here.

To labour the labeling a little, ladling on a portmanteau, ACCIDENTS HAPPEN is a 'dramedy'. It's a realistic story of an early 80s suburban family unit fractured by an auto accident. The emotional weight of their tragedy squeezes absurdity out of the cracks in their stasis. Gloria Conway (Davis) turns her rapid-fire wit to lashing her 'useless' ex-husband but that is clearly a losing game for her as she is not much more on top of her grief for their lost children than he is.

The relationship between surviving but bereft younger son Billy and his ballsy mother is the meat of the film. They present a remarkably compelling take on an interdependent relationship. They made me really care that they would work it out, and a refreshing change from the common film stereotype of merely alienated teens.

The film overall is a showcase of great characterization through screen writing and performances, not just from the poised teen-aged leads but also minor characters like the barbecue-induced widow Mrs Smolensky. She steps startlingly out of being a background character in the payoff scene at the film's end.

That final sequence also left me backpedaling on conclusions I leapt to earlier about the film's symbolism. Up until that point, the crucial role of a bowling ball in the plot lent itself to symbolism of emotional baggage, a crushing burden to carry and destructively out of control when neglected. That ball's ultimate destination revealed over the end-credits indicates the authors either didn't have that in mind, or were pointing us to some other significance entirely. Comments here suggesting what that significance might be are very welcome.

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