By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 15, 2003 at 5:12 AM

{image1}It's not easy to form a strong opinion about "The Hard Word," a quirky Australian crime picture, written and directed by Scott Roberts (in his directorial debut) and starring Guy Pearce ("Memento," "L.A. Confidential"). That's because the film, despite its charms and good performances, is ultimately unmemorable.

Pearce is Dale, one of three brothers doing time in the same penitentiary. Mal (Damien Richardson) is the dimmish butcher and Shane (Joel Edgerton of "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones") the muscley sensitive brother. Now, it seems, the brothers are being sprung, thanks to a good word from the governor's office.

While they're on the inside, their lawyer Frank (Robert Taylor, from TV's "Ballykissangel") -- who has orchestrated their release -- is cooking up new jobs for them when they get out and having his way with Dale's wife Carol (Rachel Griffiths of HBO's "Six Feet Under" and "My Best Friend's Wedding"). With his sights always set on the big job, Frank is the mastermind -- if not the brightest mind -- behind their heists.

But this time, Frank's got plans to reap the rewards of the next job, while at the same time ensuring that Dale won't be around to get in the way of his relationship with Carol.

Lots of swearing, lots of bullets flying, lots of thrilling moments, but "The Hard Word" doesn't know what it wants to be. Although it doesn't seem like it is aiming for success as a comedy, it is in the funny moments that the film is most enjoyable.

Otherwise, the story wanders hither and yon and refuses to maintain focus.

Thankfully, there are good performances from the three brothers and Frank, who is sufficiently hateful. Griffiths puts her all into the trashy bleach-blonde Carol and one of the most intriguing parts of the film -- which runs 102 minutes -- is trying to figure out exactly where she stands.

"The Hard Word" is out onow n DVD.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.