May 5, 2014
AFTER 18 years in prison, without a single visitor, a broken man who has given up on life is transferred to prison farm, to serve out his sentence before his release. At the farm he’s given the job of looking after injured birds of prey. Will a broken man be able to bond with birds with broken wings and together rehabilitee themselves? While Healing drags and gets a bit over sentimental at times, there’s a lot to like in this movie. What with its fine Australian cast, a lot of characters who are in competition with each other, and all nursing secret and hidden problems.
Criag Monahan (The Interview; Peaches), and his feature debut co-writer Alison Nisselle, have created a beautiful film about people and birds working together, all confined in a prison farm set in a peaceful rural setting. Their highlighting the competitive nature of the prison environment ensures an interest in all the characters, the prisoners, their guards and those outside the prison environment. But it also creates too many subplots which tend to detract from the heart of the story. Andrew Lesnie’s (The Lord of the Rings series; Doing Time for Patsy Cline; Babe) cinematography is brilliant, especially his bird photography, and David Hirschfelder’s (Elizabeth; Shine; Strictly Ballroom) musical score which adds majesty to Lesnie’s bird photography.
For killing his best friend, Viktor Kahdem (Don Many) is given a long prison sentence. During his time in Melbourne’s Pentridge jail he’s built up fearsome reputation as a hard man, someone to keep clear of, and during his 18 years there, keeping himself to himself, never ever having had a visitor. So before he arrives at Won Wron prison farm, his case worker, prison officer Matt Perry (Hugo Weaving), has established a unique program to rehabilitate broken men by giving them the responsibility for the rehabilitation of injured raptors, beautiful, fearsome proud eagles, falcons and owls. While his mate, prison officer Leo Egan (Tony Martin) warns him against taking on Viktor as his number one test case. Perry introduces Viktor to Yasmine, a majestic wedge tailed eagle with a two metre wingspan, which Perry and Egan rescued after it flew into a farm fence. It is Perry’s believe that if these two can tame each other, anything is possible for his program for prisoner rehabilitation.
Among the subplots Paul (Xavier Samuel) and Shane (Mark Winter) who share a room with Viktor and look after other Raptors in the aviary are two young prisoners with problems. Paul has disassociated himself from his family in shame, and Shane is a simpleton who is easily led and intimidated by Warren (Anthony Hayes) a bully, and the prison’s drug baron.
Healing is in cinemas May 8