- Director:Brendan Fletcher
- Release Date:May 05, 2011
- Running time:96 minutes
- Film Worth:$18.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
While it tackles tough material, the terrific lead performances, stunning cinematography and uplifting score add up to a film that’s pretty special.
There's a rare level of authenticity in this West Australian film. When a domestic brawl spills out onto a small town street, it's like watching something actually happen. The drama is charged, and in his first full length fiction feature, writer/director and documentary-maker Brendan Fletcher handles it with real skill.
The loose narrative follows TJ (Dean Daley-Jones) as he travels from Perth to the Kimberley region on a soul-searching mission. It's in the Kimberley town of Five Rivers where he will find his ex-lover, Nella (Ngaire Pigram), and their thirteen-year-old son, Bullet (Lucas Yeeda). But once TJ arrives, he has to deal with Texas, Nella's father and the town's policeman, played by Greg Tait, who's also a cop off screen.
With a basically non-professional cast of indigenous Australians, Mad Bastards shows how filmmakers can take tough material about difficult lives and, aided by music and occasional moments of dry humour, make it something that leaves you at once moved and uplifted.
The key performances are amazing - Daley-Jones and young Yeeda subtly convey their under-the-surface anger, while Ngaire Pigram is just electric. Tait is also convincing, and both he and Daley-Jones share screenwriting credits along with Fletcher - the central actors' personal stories are woven into the script.
It's a non-professional cast working on a low budget, so there are moments where you need to forgive tiny flaws, but the cinematography is a revelation - filmed on location, the parched Australian landscape has never looked like this. Yet what really lifts Mad Bastards is the rootsy, acoustic music of The Pigram Brothers, which is folded into the film's mix. There's also a wonderful musical cameo from Alex Lloyd.
Selected for Sundance and quietly including Bad Boy Bubby director Rolf De Heer as creative consultant, Mad Bastards works its magic slowly - but surely. It's something special.