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Jindabyne
UKScreen Rating:

Jindabyne – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Mechanic Stewart (Byrne) and his mates go for a fishing weekend in the creek near their small Australian outback town.
As they arrive at their destination, he’s shocked to find a woman’s body, floating face-down in the water. What to do…
She’s already dead, so reporting the discovery straight away won’t help her, but it will disrupt their weekend.
In the end, they tie her body to a tree, so that it’ll still be there when they’ve finished fishing and they’ll report it then.
Some time later, when the fact that they didn’t report the discovery straight away becomes widely known across the town, the friends are arrested and pilloried in the press.
Oh – and they’re accused of being racists by the local aboriginals, who believe that if the dead woman had been white, they’d have called off their trip straight away and reported the discovery immediately.
The friends’ relationships with their families, each other and the rest of the community come under tremendous strain, as they try to come to terms with their decision and move on with their lives.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

While the film echoes the menacing mood of Lawrence’s previous Australian thriller Lantana, this falls far short.
Too much of this film just doesn’t feel right. An Irishman, married to an American woman in a sleepy Australian town isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, of course, but it might at least have felt a little more believable over all if the characters had been locals.
The basic initial plot point – oh my god, there’s a body, what shall we do? – was an interesting way to launch the film, but from there, it went down hill.
It wasn’t until the local aboriginal community started kicking up a fuss that I even realised the dead girl wasn’t white – having been with the men for the duration of their fishing trip, there was never any suggestion that had she actually been white, they’d have reacted at all differently. These men were not in any way racist – they were simply working class guys confronted with a situation which caught them way out of their depths.
As such, this film would work as a critical comment on political correctness, but the film-maker seems to be oddly sympathetic to the PC cause in that sense.
The thriller element – the frequent reappearance of the spooky guy who might or might not be the murderer, seeking his next victim – is also corny, overused and ultimately to no real effect.
The rather ponderous direction drags it out, making it far too long for what it’s trying to achieve.
Even the performances of a very strong leading cast were marred by elements of melodrama, although the failure of the wife to support her husband in his hour of need added to the drama – so I guess, without that, it would have felt even more flat.

opens nationwide 25th May 2007

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