Mystery Road (2013)

Wholeness in What You Sow

All of us want to be genuinely ourselves, and nearly all of us are at the mercy of societal imprints with urges so great we cannot escape them. Few of us can be calm in ourselves.

I suppose this is one reason we seek films that are genuine and/or characters that are whole. Characters that are broken can make for good stories, but that is a different sort of compulsive draw for a film. Here, I think what this filmmaker attempted was that notion of genuine being in a genuine artefact.

The being first. The character here is an aborigine who as a detective can act as the unflinching driver of a procedural, the man of the earth who knows the place and people and the typical hero in an American western who comes into town and disrupts the gang who owns it. Other commenters like this actor and the way he moves in a modern western form.

I am a viewer from the US, and I have some trouble with this. I do see the cleanliness of the project; one can appreciate the fact that the writer is also the director, cinematographer and editor. It is genuinely artisanal in that respect. But it lacks any reflection of the filmmaker’s personality, as do say Clint Eastwood’s films in a similar vein. It cleaves too much to an American western in fact, and for this viewer there was nothing distinctly Australian in it.

Other than accent, the racists were not different than bozos within a few miles of me here. The shootout was too clean an ending for such a (relatively) complex story. So the film did not seem genuine because it gave the impression of being appropriated in nearly all respects, including the blocking.

And the hero did not strike me as genuine either. I assume most Australian viewers would know the popular fictional Black Australian detective Bony who worked in the same area. He would encounter the same racist barriers but be quite a bit more intellectually deductive than our guy here. All he seems to do is persist, where Bony is a sort of Poirot in tune with the land. It would have worked better with one of those amazing, unique faces, colour and stride that are distinct in Oz.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *