Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Miranda Tapsell, John Polson, Matt Nable, James Frecheville, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Martin Dingle Wall
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…a fairly faithful rendition but, in some ways, it feels like it could have been so much more.
The opening shots of this Aussie drama/thriller show the endless expanses of parched yellowing fields as we might expect for a film in which the weather/landscape is as much a character as a setting.
The film is based on Jane Harper’s 2016 novel and, as is always the case with adaptations, there will be those who can’t wait to see what the filmmakers have done with it. Harper’s book certainly caught the zeitgeist with its emphasis on how the relentless climate-changed oppressive weather conditions have borne down on farming communities to the point of madness.
Then there is that admixture of male rage and how it can boil over into the kinds of drastic actions that can catapult an unknown farmer (and his family) into the headlines.
The film contains two stories that twist round each other like a double helix. We start with the lead character Aaron Falk (Eric Bana back in a local film at last) revisiting the town of his upbringing. This is the kind of place where everyone knows too much about each other’s business, and they all think they have reasons to shun Aaron. He is now in the Australian Federal Police. There has been a violent incident involving a farmer and even though Aaron knows he is actually too close to be involved in a formal investigation, he decides to stick around.
The fact that he is allowed to get so close stretches credulity. He ends up tagging along with the rookie local cop as the two of them find things getting ever more murky and convoluted. The flashbacks to the past are an essential part of the twin-timed stories but sometimes they feel overused.
Writer/Producer/Director Robert Connolly (Balibo, and recent TV work like The Slap and Deep State) directs at a slightly languorous pace, which usually might not work for a thriller, but which suits the aforementioned heat-hazed and desiccated milieu. He gets serviceable performances from a solid cast of support players including Miranda Tapsell, Matt Nable and John Polson, back in front of the camera. Second-billed Irish actress Genevieve O’Reilly is eye-catching as Aaron’s possible love interest. Bana spends most of the time looking pissed off or puzzled but he is never less than watchable. The Dry is a fairly faithful rendition but, in some ways, it feels like it could have been so much more.