- Director:Jonathan Teplitzky
- Cast:Essie Davis, Kerry Fox, Matthew Goode, Rachel Griffiths, Bojana Novakovic
- Release Date:November 17, 2011
- Running time:109 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Director Jonathan Teplitzky fails to pull off the audacious structure he employs, but the film scores a knockout with Matthew Goode’s stunning lead performance.
Burning Man features an audacious structure that makes it seem more interesting than it is. The hodgepodge of non-linear timelines - an apparent effort by Aussie director Jonathan Teplitzky to reflect his main character's rage and grief - does little more than muddle an otherwise straightforward dramatic story overloaded with hysterical, naked flourishes (you want breasts? You got ‘em!). It doesn't help that Matthew Goode's Tom is a mean-spirited jerk, even before a tragic event throws his already fragile ego into turmoil.
The problem in the first half is that the character relations are so ill defined that it's difficult to care for the drama. We can discern that Tom is an ex-pat English chef who's set up shop in Sydney. He works at a classy Bondi restaurant and is dismissive of his customers. He's involved in a potentially fatal car accident. He has (had?) a wife (Bojana Novakovic) and eight-year old son, and seems to be shagging half a dozen women, including his therapist (Rachel Griffiths). An angry man, our perspective on him slowly becomes plain in the second hour, when the pace slows and the dramatic stakes become clear: his wife is seriously ill, and Tom has no clue about how to deal with it.
Grief is a difficult subject to tackle, especially when it turns to anger. That Burning Man works at all, which it does eventually, is entirely due to the actors. Goode (Ozymandias from Watchmen) is so good here that it's a wonder that he's not already a bigger star. Unfortunately, he's undone somewhat by the film itself, which is over directed, too proud of itself, and utterly enamoured with its main character's destructive personality. It redeems itself a little towards the end with intensely acted scenes and an affecting catharsis, but overall it's an interesting but failed experiment.