Al Shaw (Bruno Lawrence) looking out the window of the truck he is driving with his wife and daughter on the bench seat alongside himA bravura performance by Bruno Lawrence

Smash Palace

Roger Donaldson | New Zealand | 1982

Director: Roger Donaldson
Producer: Roger Donaldson
Screenplay: Roger Donaldson
Cinematography: Graeme Cowley
Editor: Michael Horton
Music: Sharon O’Neill
Bruno Lawrence (Al Shaw)
Anna Jemison (Jacqui Shaw)
Greer Robson (Georgie Shaw)
Keith Aberdein (Ray Foley)
Desmond Kelly (Tiny)
Lynne Robson (Linda)

Rating: R16 violence Runtime: 111 minutes

Smash Palace is an exploration of kiwi masculinity in crisis that has become a landmark film in New Zealand cinema. Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981, before being released theatrically the following year, it launched Roger Donaldson’s Hollywood career, leading to his work on No Way Out, Cocktail, Dante’s Peak, and The World’s Fastest Indian.

The plot centres on Al Shaw (Bruno Lawrence), a race car driver who runs a car wreckers in a rural area near Mount Ruapehu. After his wife, Jacqui (Anna Jemison) leaves him, Al becomes increasingly unstable and begins to use his business as a means of exerting control over Jacqui and their daughter. As his behaviour becomes more erratic, the situation spirals out of control.

Smash Palace is the second of two films on this year’s programme, directed by Roger Donaldson in the late 1970s and early 1990s, following Sleeping Dogs. We are proud to continue to show classic works of New Zealand Cinema at Wellington Film Society.

“Now comes this film, so emotionally wise and observant that we learn from it why people sometimes make the front pages with guns in their hands and try to explain that it’s all because of love.” Roger Ebert.

Film courtesy of Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission


May 01 2023


6:15 pm - 8:05 pm