Smash Palace (1982)

  • Action, Drama, Thriller
  • 1h 48m
  • 1982

The break-up film is hardly new territory, but in the hands of Roger Donaldson, this is, even now, a fresh and complex look at the end of a marriage.

Bruno Lawrence gives a magnetic performance as Shaw, a former Grand Prix racing driver who has retired to look after his father’s auto-parts business ‘Smash Palace’. Although she nagged him to leave the racing circuit, his French wife can’t stand her isolated life there and walks out, taking the couple’s eight-year-old daughter with her.

In an insane attempt at reconciliation, Shaw kidnaps his daughter and flees to the bush, setting in motion a widespread hunt for the child.

While the plot is familiar, this is a deeply psychological and poetic view of the dissolution of a relationship in which neither person can shoulder the blame. The film’s rhythm is unsettling, contrasting stillness and motion and violence and tranquillity in such an unpredictable way, the viewers can never leave the edge of their seats.


Roger Donaldson




New Zealand