Jindabyne Ray Lawrence

Jindabyne Ray Lawrence
A critic friend of mine warned me that this movie was "as earnest as death itself,” and that, unfortunately, is the best way to describe this turgid Australian time-waster from a Raymond Carver story.

Gabriel Byrne stars as a mechanic who’s married to Laura Linney; when he goes on a fishing trip with a few of his mates, he discovers the body of a dead aboriginal woman at their fishing spot. For no apparent reason beyond laziness, the lads fail to report this until after they’ve caught a few; it’s a bad decision that turns into a media frenzy and a flashpoint for the understandably outraged aboriginal community. There’s more, including much finger pointing, Linney’s attempts to make amends and Deborra-Lee Furness as the uppity grandmother to an orphaned granddaughter, but mostly the film is grindingly self-important and a pain to sit through.

Director Ray Lawrence makes sure he emphasises the ennui to the point of intolerability, compounding things with Soteria Bell’s austere yodelling on the soundtrack. There’s no missing that we’re watching an "important” film but it mostly gets on our nerves rather than edifying us. The performances are excellent all around — Linney is at her finest and Furness is convincingly hostile in her bitter grandmother role — but the characters are so enervated and irritating that bringing them to life means driving us crazy with annoyance.

To be sure, it’s a seamless piece of work that comes off exactly as its makers intended but what they’ve intended is so unappetising (and in its motions towards the aboriginal community so misguided) that it seems unwarranted to congratulate them for their success. (Mongrel Media)