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‘Blacklight’: the film that failed our city

Blacklight was filmed along Canberra’s city streets.

‘Blacklight’, also known as the film that failed our city. Like every Canberran, I know that my home is the place to be with its gorgeous scenery, national monuments and squabbling politicians. So how did a Hollywood blockbuster film like ‘Blacklight’ completely and utterly let me down, portraying Canberra’s streets as the world of car chases and lacking any originality?

Filmed throughout some of Canberra’s well-known streets, such as Bunda Street, Binara street, and Allara street, the usual hustle and bustle of Canberran’s everyday noise was broken up when some loud shots fire in the air. The sounds of screeching filled the air as an epic car chase began.

The only good scene in the entire film, if I’m honest.

I sit, muscles tensing slightly for the first time throughout this movie as my hands grip the edge of the seat. I watch cars zoom around familiar streets. Then, one defining thought rises above the rest, which quietly nudges at my brain. That street looks familiar…and I can’t think of where I have seen it befo….wait a minute… that’s Canberra! Suddenly, the scene draws me in as I find myself leaning closer to the screen, trying to pick out every minute detail.

The excitement built as I remembered many walks between Canberra’s busy streets with friends

There’s the car park I drove around in for 30 minutes trying to find a park; there’s the restaurant I celebrated my best friend’s 18th birthday at, there’s the tree my date face planted into when he was too drunk to understand trees are solid. Suddenly a different movie is coming to life as I watch a man I have never met before treat my city like his home. Every memory I see, every event taken place accompanied by the screech of tyres on asphalt.

Every moment brought a new memory to mind watching the familiar streets through someone else’s eyes.

Then with a final bang, I am brought out of my reminiscence as I watch the cars pile up against a truck parked outside Canberra’s Crowne Plaza and Casino.

Canberra Casino and Crowne Plaza were centrepieces of the film

Over time, psychologists have discovered a very logical reason why I got excited to see a familiar place in an unexpected setting. In this example, seeing a street, I commute down every day on the big screen across the world.

“We develop a sense of place in our hometown.”

Tara Brach, Clinical psychologist
American clinical psychologist Tara Brach shares more information on her YouTube channel

A sense of belonging. By seeing the place I associate with belonging, I feel I am sharing a part of myself with others. Becoming more familiar and extending my understanding of who I am.

“sharing a sense of belonging is sharing who we really are.”

Tara Brach, Clinical psychologist
The intersecting streets of Canberra provided the perfect film location for a car chase.

Therefore, when I see Canberra streets in blockbuster movies such as ‘Blacklight’, my brain associate’s itself with sharing a part of myself with the world, which is why it comes as so disheartening for my sense of self to be misrepresented when displayed to a Hollywood audience

The gentle curve along Bunda Street created the perfect momentum for car chases and memories.

The only significant part of the movie is watching average streets on my daily commute turning into a world of fast-paced action and explosions. Then it’s back to mind-numbing unfamiliar sets and tedious mediocracy in the world of thriller and action films.

‘Blacklight’ was a typical run of a mill political paranoia thriller. The anticipation of seeing a city like mine with much to offer is entirely and utterly neglected of originality. It caused disappointment to course through the body.

The perfect film to set and forget if I enjoy being let-down

‘Blacklight’ is a film I would not recommend. It did little to reflect Canberra’s potential. Instead of utilizing an original often overlooked filming location Canberra was represented through a film that had a lot of action and very little dialogue. Leading it to be a bland representation of Canberra’s iconic people.

A bland representation of a vibrant city

Photos by Olivia Paull