Steve (Gary Sweet), an average enough mid-management executive, lives in suburban Adelaide with his wife, Alexandra (Helen Buday), and their two young kids. On this otherwise average morning it’s his birthday and the kids wake him with colourfully wrapped presents. But his day ends with the unspooling of a video tape – a sort of electronic letter - made by his deeply unhappy wife, and the devastating contents of the tape change his life.
 

4
Not everyone loves surprises.

After his cathartic Australian western The Tracker Rolf de Heer turns inward for his next feature, a domestic drama like no other, Alexandra\'s Project. A man and wife lie sleeping in the early morning, the sun reflecting on their bodies through the holes in the protective shutters on the windows. We know very early on that this is not a happy home But it\'s Steve\'s Gary Sweet\'s birthday, the kids are excited, his wife Alexandra, Helen Buday, is less so. He goes to work in a buoyant frame of mind but comes home to an empty house that deadlocks behind him. There he\'s confronted with a videotape present from his wife. This is Alexandra\'s Project. In the video, which Steve starts to enjoy because it involves Alexandra stripping for him, he\'s ultimately confronted not only with his shortcomings as a husband but with his wife\'s vindictiveness. This extraordinarily painful film is a meditation on a lot of things. On the casual cruelty of men, on the seething and calculated bitterness of a wife. It\'s hard to know where to place it. Is it a meditation on a woman\'s need to escape from a man who seems to control everything, a man who uses a body but never sees the person within? Is it a condemnation of men, or one man? Or is it in fact a condemnation of a woman? The riffs in this film are fascinating. Gary Sweet who worked with de Heer in The Tracker takes a very different emotional journey in this film and is amazingly honest in his portrayal of Steve. Helen Buday has the more overtly courageous role, she is simply splendid as Alexandra. The mysteries of this film, the emotions it will provoke, make it yet another notch in de Heer\'s unconventional and uncompromising approach to cinema. Comments By David Stratton Rolf De Heer is a major filmmaker whose films are essential viewing. Vastly different from The Tracker, Alexandra\'s Project is a cinematically exciting exercise in suspense and tension using minimal means. The actors are superb, and my only worry is that the punishment Alexandra metes out to her husband seems to exceed by far his apparent crimes.