Film , Drama
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She’s dead. They can’t help her. Best to leave her in the water where at least she’ll be preserved. Such is the argument when four Aussie mates encounter a corpse floating in a remote pool and decide to hold off reporting their discovery until after their annual fishing weekend in a rugged corner of New South Wales. Garage owner Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) doesn’t even mention it to his wife (Laura Linney) on his return, and when the news does leak out it doesn’t just exacerbate tensions in their already rocky marriage, it exposes the cultural abyss between the white fishermen and the appalled family of the Aboriginal victim. For the indigenous communities, the spirit lives on after the body, so this is an upsetting act of disrespect, and the perpetrators seem uncomprehendingly insensitive.

Like his previous film ‘Lantana’, Lawrence’s latest uses the shock of mortality to send dramatic ripples off in all directions, though here the scope’s even wider than that film’s engrossing survey of the battle of the sexes, taking in an array of lives stymied by both personal and colonial histories, suggesting that the scars of racism are far from healed and even that white Australians are interlopers in this imposing terrain. Thankfully, there’s little preachiness in these waves of complexity, since the film is grounded in the emotional immediacy of Byrne’s befuddled masculinity and the reliably brilliant Linney’s counter-productive rage at small-town narrow-mindedness. Although you could argue that the ending’s unpersuasively over-resolved given the myriad divisive issues raised by Beatrix Christian’s probing screenplay, the seamless overall blend of involving domestic turmoil and haunted national self-questioning is quite some achievement.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday May 25 2007
Duration: 124 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ray Lawrence
Screenwriter: Beatrix Christian
Cast: Gabriel Byrne
Laura Linney
Chris Haywood
Deborra-Lee Furness
John Howard
Eva Lazzaro
Leah Purcell
Stelios Yiakmis
Sean Ress-Wemyss
Alice Garner
Simon Stone
Tatea Reilly
Betty Lucas