Play

00:00

/

00:00

Full screen
Video quality

Low 0 MB

High 0 MB

HD 0 MB

Captions
Volume
Volume
Hero image for Crush

Crush

Film (Trailer and Excerpts) – 1992

M
Mature

A Perspective

In the darkly humorous Crush, the debut feature of Alison Maclean, Marcia Gay Harden (fresh from the Coen Brothers' gangster flick Miller's Crossing) plays Lane, a sexually voracious and troubled American. Precipitated by a dramatic car crash which disables her friend, lover and passenger Christina (Donogh Rees), the unscathed Lane wrecks a path of seduction through small town Rotorua; a once famous novelist Colin (William Zappa) and his awkward daughter Angela (Caitlin Bossley) both get drawn in and hurt.

Maclean was born in Canada to New Zealand parents. The family returned home when she was in early teens: "I guess it [NZ] is the place I know and is more a part of me than anywhere else." Crush's tale of identity is framed by a deeply metaphorical landscape; with Lane in the picture, Rotorua is sexed up, awash with phallic suggestion. "Rotorua imbues a foreboding presence, the boiling mud swathed in drifts of steam signifying the dangerous emotion simmering just below the surface," writes Deborah Shepard (Reframing Women: a history of New Zealand film). 

Crush was developed with the help of the Sundance Institute, a scheme that many NZ writer/directors have come through (Jane Campion, Niki Caro and Taika Waititi to name a few). Anne Kennedy co-wrote. Bridget Ikin, who had collaborated with MacLean on a number of shorts, including the celebrated Kitchen Sink, produced.

"Crush was Alison's exploration of power and identity, the messy feelings she had about being a New Zealander, a woman, Anglo - in the early 1990s - in a country which (certainly at that time) was preoccupied with referencing itself against the USA; and a complicated anxiety around notions of race and gender" reflects Ikin. "Couped with all of those ‘grapplings' were her complicated feelings of longing - about her own childhood and her family; feeling that something better, richer, more interesting maybe was happening elsewhere. I think the film was ahead of its time being such an intense exploration of identity."

Crush followed in the footsteps of Vincent Ward's Vigil and The Navigator becoming the third New Zealand film to be selected for official competition at Cannes. It was the only film in competition that was both directed and produced by a woman.

McLean had worked on Vigil. The influences, especially in the imagery and symbolic landscapes, are obvious. But Crush's focus on female subjectivity and desire is particularly McLean. Whatever might be said about its narrative spine, Crush's tone - bottom of the world, boiling mud pool ennui - is unarguably bold and distinctive.

Village Voice singled out Crush as one of the highlights of Sundance in 1993. At Cannes, Moving Pictures critic Nick Roddick called it an "extraordinary debut feature", while others noted that it was the only first feature in the Cannes competition. At home it didn't fare so well: John Maynard, the New Zealand distributor commented "our [promotional] campaign focussed on women, but the most influential critics are men".

With Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table and The Piano and Gaylene Preston's Bread and Roses and Ruby and Rata also being released in the early 90s, Crush was part of a cluster of New Zealand films about women made by women.


Sources include
Deborah Shepard, Reframing Women - A History of New Zealand film (Auckland: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2000)
'U.K. and U.S. Critics Praise Crush' - NZFilm 47, October 1992 (Number 47, Page 4)

If you liked this, you might also like...

Collection
Collection image for The LGBTQ+ Collection

The LGBTQ+ Collection

This collection showcases NZ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and...

Thumbnail image for Cannes '92

Cannes '92

Alison Maclean talks about taking the new film to Cannes

Thumbnail image for Talkback

Talkback

Written and directed by Alison Maclean

Thumbnail image for The Marching Girls - Mahara's Story

The Marching Girls - Mahara's Story

Co-written by Anne Kennedy

Thumbnail image for Pheno was Here

Pheno was Here

A 1982 short film starring Donogh Rees

Thumbnail image for Taunt

Taunt

Alison Maclean’s first short film, produced by Bridget Ikin

Thumbnail image for Constance

Constance

Also stars Donogh Rees

Thumbnail image for I Like Rain

I Like Rain

A music video from JPSE

Thumbnail image for An Angel at My Table

An Angel at My Table

Also produced by Bridget Ikin

Thumbnail image for Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both of Us

Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both of Us

Also starring Donogh Rees

Thumbnail image for Rud's Wife

Rud's Wife

An early TV black comedy from Maclean

Thumbnail image for Stalin's Sickle

Stalin's Sickle

Short film co-written by Anne Kennedy

Thumbnail image for Warbrick

Warbrick

More drama in the geothermal mud

Thumbnail image for Sure to Rise

Sure to Rise

A short film with themes of dark infatuation

Thumbnail image for New Zealand Mirror No. 1

New Zealand Mirror No. 1

An NFU newsreel featuring Rotorua’s geothermal region

Thumbnail image for Angel Mine

Angel Mine

Another dark tale of sexuality and symbolism

Thumbnail image for Strata

Strata

An earlier Kiwi art-film with thermal symbolism

Thumbnail image for Rotorua Lookabout

Rotorua Lookabout

A sunnier look at Rotorua's attractions

Thumbnail image for The Rehearsal

The Rehearsal

Also directed by Alison Maclean

Thumbnail image for Pāia - Zorb (Series One, Episode Five)

Pāia - Zorb (Series One, Episode Five)

Twisted drama set in Rotorua

Thumbnail image for Shortland Street - Carmen after the truck crash

Shortland Street - Carmen after the truck crash

More after-effects of a car crash

Thumbnail image for Vermilion

Vermilion

Another feature about female friendship

Thumbnail image for Pacific Viewpoint - Guide Bubbles interview

Pacific Viewpoint - Guide Bubbles interview

Interview with a famed Rotorua tour guide

Thumbnail image for Pleasures and Dangers

Pleasures and Dangers

Documentary featuring six NZ female artists

Thumbnail image for Kaleidoscope - Theo Schoon

Kaleidoscope - Theo Schoon

More artistic use of mud pools