A year after the loss of his father Ridley and his mother Gloria move to Western Australian to live with Ridley's estranged grandfather Spencer.
Once there Spencer tries to connect with Ridley but all efforts usually lead to conflict. Ridley ends up lost deep in the outback on a quest to try to get home. Meanwhile Spencer and Gloria search the outback for Ridley.
Spencer tries to reassure Gloria that her son will be OK all the while trying to come to terms with the loss of his only child. While suffering the elements of the Australian outback (especially for a kid from New York) Ridley manages to save a dingo Buckley from a leg trap. The two develop a bond and both boy and dog try to survive the elements to get Ridley back home.
Official Trailer: Buckley's Chance
Review: Buckley's Chance
Bill Nighy's voice is unmistakable even over a crackly line from London. The 71-year-old actor doesn't do Zoom so an oldfashioned phone line seems to suit him. Like the rest of Britain the Love Actually star has just emerged from a months-long lockdown and is happily back at work filming Kazuo Ishiguro's adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's 1952 classic Ikiru at County Hall in London.
"It's another step towards what you hope is a normal life" he says. "And it's good to be in the company of other actors and people in all the departments. I'm fortunate that I'm doing something that I think has real value. And it's sort of coming back to me what you're supposed to do."
It's been a year and a half since he stood in front of a camera he says. One of the last things he shot was Buckley's Chance playing Spencer a sheep farmer whose American grandson and daughter-in-law move in after the death of his son.
Filmed in Broken Hill in 2019 it's clear the film has been written by a couple of Canadians – there's a conveniently friendly snakecatching dingo and the references to playing "rugby' ' are vague.
Spencer is not a million miles from Nighy's usual characters – a bit stern a bit mumbly and welldressed – and he pulls out a low-key Australian accent: less Meryl Streep more gentleman farmer.
"Accents are funny because they are quite hard to maintain" he says. "Everyone can do a quick burst of a particular expression or sentence but it's quite a delicate tuning an Australian accent ... It's English and you think it's going to be OK but it's actually trickier than that."
In 1985 he starred in the play Pravda a satire about the newspaper industry as an Australian business manager to Anthony Hopkins' South African media baron.
‘‘[ For Pravda] I asked somebody ‘well where are all the Australians?' And they said ‘they're all at the Chelsea Arts Club' " he says. "So I went to the Chelsea Arts Club and what I used to do is take a little tape recorder and go and find someone and get them to say the lines you have to say. So I bought everybody a pint and put the tape recorder on the bar with the script and these guys would speak into it for me."
Nighy said yes to the film because he liked the script and had enjoyed previous trips to Australia even though his first time here was a "brutal' ' publicity trip for the 2009 comedy The Boat that Rocked that lasted only a day and a half. "Everyone just came home and got various forms of travel illness" he says. A better experience was the filming of I Frankenstein in Melbourne in 2012 where he settled into the cafes: he loves cafes.
He spent lockdown in London exercising and ploughing through about 60 or 70 books – but gave up reading newspapers. "I couldn't take it any more" he says. "You've got enough on your plate without being angered."
Despite his news ban he's heard they've relaxed the rules now. "Apparently we were allowed to cautiously hug. How does one do that?" he wonders.
A firm arm around the shoulders?
"I don't know. I suppose so. I've never done a cautious hug."
This review by Louise Rugendyke is from the June 22 issue of The Age Digital Edition. To subscribe visit "https://www.theage.com.au".
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