Rip it Up
Mad Dog Bradley
May 16, 2014
Only Craig Monahan’s third movie in 16 years (after 1998’s The Interview and 2004’s Peaches), this finely-acted drama gets a little muddled toward the end, and yet there’s a genuine emotional richness here.
At Won Wron, in rural Victoria, we meet Viktor Khadem (Don Hany), who’s been moved to this low-security, pre-release prison farm after 16 years inside and becomes a concern for case worker Matt Perry (Hugo Weaving). Viktor, the equally remote Paul (Xavier Samuel), the ‘simple’ Shane (Mark Leonard Winter) and others find a wounded wedge-tailed eagle and Viktor insists that she be nursed back to health. This results in the building of cages and other facilities to allow for the care of a series of injured raptors (also including falcons and owls) and the chance for these broken and haunted men to heal themselves while looking after these beautiful animals. While Perry’s plan doesn’t always run smoothly, and is met with resistance by other officers (like Tony Martin) and inmates (like the drug-dealing Warren, played by Anthony Hayes), Viktor and ‘Yasmine’ are soon the stars of the program, and there’s talk of what will happen when both are released back into the scary world beyond.
And it’s hard to know which are more engaging here: the subtle performances from the cast, especially Hany, or the birds themselves, shown in all their feathery glory and with only the barest minimum of FX or trickery. But perhaps it doesn’t matter, as both help make Monahan’s film soar.