Time Out says
Fans of Raymond Carver’s cryptic short story “So Much Water So Close to Home” count its inclusion in Robert Altman’s 1993 Short Cuts as that film’s highlight. They also contend that the story deserved more than being one strand among many in a vast Carverpalooza; Ray Lawrence (Lantana) apparently agreed. The Australian director’s adaptation of the late writer’s parable about moral gray areas moves the setting from the Pacific Northwest to a working-class town Down Under, expands on the backstory and introduces racial elements. But the specifics remain the same: Four fishermen stumble across a dead girl, and wait three days before reporting their find—an incident that implodes the marriage of the group’s leader (Byrne) and his wife (Linney).
Like his compatriot Peter Weir, Lawrence can fill pastoral landscapes with a sense of dread, and he wisely utilizes long silences and slow zoom-ins to mirror the author’s elliptical prose. But despite the director’s ingenuity—and Laura Linney’s mastery of staring significantly into space—Jindabyne ends up shushing itself out of any emotional wallop. Restraint is a necessity if you’re trying to express Carver’s singular voice, but there’s a difference between being quietly devastating and muting your narrative to death. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — David Fear