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Posted October 1, 2010
A Murder and Its Implications on a Town and Families
JINDABYNE is a disturbing, somber little film from Australia - a film with profound observations about ethics, racism, the fragility of marriage, the vulnerability of children's minds, and the desperate need for respect for beliefs and peoples outside the mainstream. Beatrix Christian adapted the screenplay from one of Raymond Carver's brilliant short stories, 'So Much Water So Close to Home': it has been said that Carver had 'the ability to render graceful prose from dreary, commonplace, scrapping-the-bottom human misery' and this story embodies all of those traits. As directed by Ray Lawrence with a cast of excellent actors, JINDABYNE will likely become a classic movie - if enough people will take the time and commitment to see it. In a small town called Jindabyne in Australia a group of four men depart their families for a fishing trip: Stewart Kane (Gabriel Byrne), Carl (John Howard), Rocco (Stelios Yiakmis) and Billy (Simon Stone). While fly fishing in the back country, Stewart discovers the nude, murdered body of a dead Aboriginal girl Susan (Tatea Reilly) floating in the water, calls his buddies to witness the ugly act, and together they decide to wait until their fishing trip is over before reporting it. When the men return home, concerned and embarrassed about their actions as they report to the police, the town is outraged at their thoughtless behavior. Yet more outraged are the wives of the men - Carl's wife Jude (Deborra-Lee Furness), Rocco's mate Carmel (Leah Purcell), Billy's 'wife' Elissa (Alice Garner) and, most of all, Stewart's wife Claire (Laura Linney) - a woman with a history of mental instability for whom her husband's insensitivity becomes intolerable. Claire sets out to 'right' things with the Aboriginal tribe who are devastated at the murder and the disregard for another human being's life that the fishermen have demonstrated. The town and the families (including children) are fractured by the deed - and the strange aspect is that no one appears concerned to discover the murderer, the greater 'crime' has been against human decency. In a powerfully moving final memorial for the dead girl every one is forced to face the dirty aspects of the recent events and come to a degree of understanding and acceptance. Filmed in the beauty of the Australian countryside with camera technique that feels intimate and almost spying in nature, the story unfolds so naturally that the audience is made to feel a part of the dilemma at hand. The acting is first rate: Laura Linney once again proves she is one of our finest actresses, and Gabriel Byrne makes his odd character wholly believable. The supporting cast (especially the women) is outstanding. This is a sleeper of a film that deserves a wide audience, an audience ready to commit to thinking and reacting to an act and subsequent public response that, while difficult to swallow, is essential information if we are to exist in the society we have created. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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