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JINDABYNE

Director: RAY LAWRENCE

AUSTRALIA • 2006 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 123 MIN


AFTER THE MESMERISING LANTANA, LEADING AUSTRALIAN DIRECTOR RAY LAWRENCE RETURNS WITH ANOTHER STORY RESONATING OUTWARD FROM THE DISCOVERY OF A DEAD BODY.
The source material for Jindabyne is actually a Raymond Carver story, ‘So Much Water, So Close To Home’, about a group of anglers who refuse to interrupt their fishing trip when they find a corpse in the river, but screenwriter Beatrix Christian has reset it in New South Wales with the added complication that the guys are white Australians, the departed a young Aboriginal woman. A long and divisive history thus weighs heavy on unfolding events, as guilty husband Gabriel Byrne tries to defend his buddies’ actions while his wife Laura Linney is determined to get the full story on events in the mountains—and to make peace with the understandably appalled Aboriginal community.
Careful pacing allows the layers of the drama to build slowly, with Byrne’s battle to assert his bruised masculine authority in his own home a key contributing factor, and the brooding presence of the landscape itself reminding the settlers that they’re mere interlopers here. Lawrence takes on quite a challenge in getting the personal and wider cultural aspects of the story to work for each other, but mesh they do, and the result is a film of provocative complexity such as the American indie scene could only dream of. Lawrence’s technique of allowing the actors only a single take sounds like madness, but obviously kept the likes of Byrne and Linney on their toes. And then some.—Trevor Johnston.

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