Last week I had the pleasure - if pleasure is the right word to describe such a disturbing but powerful film - of seeing the new Australian film Snowtown. I've written a detailed review over at Arts Hub, which you can read here, but here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Thanks in part to Adam Arkapaw’s accomplished and voyeuristic cinematography, the movie quickly and deliberately distances the audience from the events it depicts. This is not a film which asks the viewer to identify with its protagonists; rather, its actions unfold with the viewer held resolutely at arms length. Tight editing and an ominous score ensure that it remains a compelling and unsettling experience.
The involvement of mostly non-professional performers ensures that the audience is never distracted by stars pretending to be members of a socially and economically deprived underclass (a jarring flaw of Ana Kokkinos’s Blessed); and their presence, coupled with the film’s subdued realism and the filmmakers’ decision to shoot in the locales in which the movie is set, ensure an immediate and unsettling verisimilitude.
Conveying a palpable sense of menace and unease, Snowtown draws power from what it does not show, though its brief scenes of violence are disturbing in the extreme. Shaun Grant’s script is excellent, as is Kurzel’s direction. As Bunting, Henshall is a revelation: an attentive, charming monster, and utterly compelling.
The film is not entirely successful – the large cast of characters lack definition, and are occasionally indistinguishable as a consequence; while the final act of the film ... lacks the palpable sense of tension that makes the first two thirds of the movie so memorable – but overall, Snowtown is a remarkable, albeit disturbing film, and a compelling portrayal of the banality of evil.
I will be discussing Snowtown with fellow critics Cerise Howard and Tara Judah at a special 3RRR subscribers' preview at Cinema Nova this Tuesday. Perhaps I'll see you there?