Aaron Pedersen: subtle, commanding performance Film Title: Mystery Road Director: Ivan Sen Starring: Hugo Weaving Genre: Crime Running Time: 112 min
Token indigenous Australian cop Jay (Aaron Pedersen) returns to the rural Queenslandtown where he grew up to investigate the brutal killing of a teenage girl. He is offered little or no assistance from fellow officers, who smirk from corners of the station. Jay’s inquiries soon suggest there’s something even more troubling than casual racism going on. But will one good cop be enough to untangle a knot of prostitution, drugs, social deprivation, kangaroo hunting, wild dogs and corruption?
Writer-director Ivan Sen’s compelling police procedural is characterised by dark secrets and relentless glare. At first glance it is Walkabout reworked as noir. On closer inspection, Aaron Petersen’s subtle commanding performance signals that we are, in fact, watching a displaced western, replete with a wild frontier, dangerous hicks, an air of lawlessness and a charismatic hero in a hat. Hugo Weaving’s turn as a problematic copper is equally accomplished: the actor twitches with menace and charm. You would have to think back as far as Samson and Delilah to find an Australian feature this bonzer.