Director: John Curran
Screenwriters: Andrew McGahan

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


Gordon is a listless, chain-smoking asthmatic with a rather insipid libido. Cynthia is a slightly pudgy nymphomaniac with a bad case of eczema. After quitting his job at a Brisbane liquor store, Gordon makes a decision that will mark his life forever: becoming involved in Cynthia’s manic parlor games of chemical and sexual excess.
As the pair combust in warmth and madness, Gordon willingly enters Cynthia’s web of indulgence, progressively losing himself in a woman who’s ironically lost to herself. Fueled by their rabid diet of sex, stimulants, and Scrabble, the lovers shore themselves away in Gordon’s flea-bitten boarding house, temporarily staving off loneliness and imminent self-destruction. But as the months pass, Gordon’s deficiencies and Cynthia’s intensity begin to wear on the relationship. Asthmatics tire easily, and Cynthia’s insatiable needs ultimately demand a little more than Gordon is able to give.
Winner of the prestigious FIPRESCI prize at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, Praise is a powerful, tragicomic love story of obsession, addiction, and codependency. Unflinchingly raw and honest, the film buoys its downbeat content with touching characterizations and a wily sense of humor (brilliantly effected by Andrew McGahan’s true-to-life screenplay and Horler’s and Fenton’s knockout performances). Supported by the sublime contributions of cinematographer Dion Beebe and cult composers Dirty Three, John Curran returns to Sundance (his short, Down Rusty Down, played in 1997) with a first feature of rare discretion, potency, and sophistication, more than deserving the adulation his title solicits.

John Curran, Director
John Curran studied art on
scholarship at Syracuse University and worked as an art director in New York City. In 1986 he moved to Australia, where he set up a company with five other filmmakers and began directing award-winning music videos and commercials. Teaming up with colleague and producer Martha Coleman, he wrote and directed the short Down Rusty Down, which screened at Sundance in 1997 and won numerous awards. Praise is his first feature film.

— Rebecca Yeldham

Screening Details


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