April 23, 2014
Running Time: 178 minutes
|Jonathan auf der Heide||(“Fog”)|
|Rhys Graham||(“Small Mercies”)|
|Justin Kurzel||(segment “Boner McPharlin’s Moll”)|
|Anthony Lucas||(“Damaged Goods”)|
|Claire McCarthy||(segment “The Turning”)|
|Ashlee Page||(“On Her Knees”)|
|Warwick Thornton||(“Big World”)|
|Marieka Walsh||(“Ash Wednesday”)|
|Mia Wasikowska||(“Long, Clear View”)|
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Rose Byrne, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, Susie Porter
Cinematography: Denson Baker, John Brawley, Stefan Duscio, Robert Humphreys, Jeremy Rouse, Miles Rowland, Warwick Thornton
Tim Winton’s bestselling book of seventeen short stories is not something most people would see as being an obvious choice for adapting to the big screen. Robert Connolly is not most people, and he has gathered together an enviable list of Australian cinema talent to put together this compilation film.
Each of these seventeen stories has been made into a short film by a different director, and the result is, as you might expect, mixed. The book, set mainly on the Western Australian coast, is populated by damaged people. Alcoholism runs through the stories, as does abuse of both women and children. But there are also undercurrents of hope and salvation and spiritual awakening that will pull the desperate characters out of the world they currently wallow in. The tone of the film follows that of the book – melancholy and yearning.
As with most compilations, not all offerings are equal. Ones that stood out especially for me were Sand, in which two brothers engage in a dangerous game on the beach while the adults fish, oblivious to how easily they could have lost a son, and On Her Knees in which a cleaning woman deals with being wrongfully dismissed with uncanny dignity and passes a valuable lesson on to her son. I also very much enjoyed the experimental dance piece, Immunity, and the title story, The Turning, in which an abused wife living in a trailer park has her life turned around by befriending a born-again Christian.
The collection is a veritable who’s who of Australian talent both established and up-and-coming. While the three-hour running time is intimidating, for the most part, the stories are so engrossing, you barely notice the time ticking by.