At the Movies
April 29, 2014
I’m not usually a fan of prison movies, I hate the claustrophobic nightmare of incarceration, but HEALING, a new film from co-writer/director Craig Monahan is what I would call a gentle prison film. It’s set in a transitional centre where long term prisoners are expected to be eased into the outside world. Among the new intakes are Viktor Khadem – DON HANY – who has spent 18 years in prison for murder. He’s a tough nut who’s learned to handle himself and his religion on the inside, a taciturn loner. And there’s Paul – XAVIER SAMUEL – a young kid with family issues. They’re allotted accommodation with Shane – MARK LEONARD WINTER – a confused kid who acts as a go-between. They’re assigned to Officer Matt Perry – HUGO WEAVING – who believes that something can be gained from working with the local Wildlife Sanctuary.
The relationship with birds has a profound effect on some of the inmates.
This is possibly the most sentimental prison movie I’ve ever seen. And I was so grateful. It’s really lovely. The performances are fabulous, Don Hany who’s established such a fine credibility on television productions like East West 101 and The Broken Shore, is ravaged and old here, as well as fine. Hugo Weaving has to be the most stoic and solid performer in this country, he’s just always great. He plays a man with his own issues in this. But all the performances are solid, Jane Menelaus as the wildlife expert, Tony Martin as Matt’s colleague, Justine Clark as a social worker and Anthony Hayes as a controlling inmate. But the real kudos here goes to Andrew Payne who was the bird handler on the film. He’s a star and so are the birds.
DAVID: The birds are wonderful. That’s for sure and, look, I have to say again I was disappointed with this film because I was a big fan of THE INTERVIEW, the last film that Craig Monahan directed.
MARGARET: Long time between drinks for that man.
DAVID: Long time. Long time. So I was very much looking forward to this. I’m an admirer of Hugo Weaving and the actors in the film but I think the treatment is very slow. It’s so contemplative and thoughtful that it kind of lost me and as a result the film is two hours long and it should be at least half an hour less than that, I think.
MARGARET: Oh, no. Excuse me.
DAVID: Yes, well, I think so because, look, I got a bit bored with it to be honest and the scene where he goes off to meet his son in the city and what happens there is a bit clichéd I thought. I didn’t go for that.
MARGARET: See I think that all the performances make every action so credible that I was really with this film all the way and I’m giving it four stars.
DAVID: I really wanted to be but I’m afraid it lost me. I’m giving it three.