A Savage Christmas Director Madeleine Dyer Talks About Crafting a Comedic Aussie Christmas in This Interview

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Madeleine Dyer is a writer, actor, director, and producer, whose body of work includes the 2017 comedy series Sexy Herpes, the acclaimed comedy series Colin from Accounts, where she worked with her sister Harriet Dyer, and now her latest film, A Savage Christmas, out in cinemas on 16 November 2023.

A Savage Christmas tells the story of the Savage family as they meet for a sweaty summer Christmas in Queensland. After years of estrangement, trans woman Davina, played by Thea Raveneua, returns home with her partner Kane, played by co-writer Max Jahufer. Davina’s well meaning parents, James (played by David Roberts) and Brenda (played by Helen Thomson), are still coming to terms with her transition and in a distinictly Aussie boomer-ish fashion, they struggle to understand the importance of pronouns and transitioning.

Davina naturally expects her transition to be the focus of the family dinner, but her brother Jimmie Jr (Ryan Morgan) brings a cyclone of disruption along his way with a looming debt he needs to pay to a gangster (played by Gary Sweet). Thrown into the mix is their sister, Leila (Rekha Ryan), who is yet to tell her family about the imminent divorce she’s going through. Chuck a dodgy Uncle Dick (Darren Gilshenan) and a frail Pomeranian into the mix and you’ve got your regular old Aussie Christmas.

A Savage Christmas is a ridiculously funny and brilliantly scripted comedy that feels like a breath of fresh air. Performances across the board are exceptional, with Thea Raveneua and Max Jahufer both giving stellar debut turns. Hopefully we see more from them in the future. Equally great is Ryan Morgan who manages to bring a level of compassion to a familar character-type, while screen legends David Roberts, Helen Thomson, and Darren Gilshenan balance the bonkers with the grounded.

In the above interview, Madeleine talks about the creation of the script with co-writers Max Jahufer and Daniel Mulvihill, what it means to be able to present an authentic Queensland summer on screen, and how she intends to forge a career in comedy on screen in Australia.

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian cinema, Australian politics, Australian culture, and Australia in general. Found regularly talking online about Sweet Country, and reminding people to watch Young Adult.

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