Movies, Drama
2 out of 5 stars
The Raymond Carver fans who whined about how far Robert Altman’s Short Cuts strayed from the spirit of the Carver stories upon which the film was based were overlooking the fact that the writer’s minimalist style makes a “faithful” cinematic translation of his work pretty much unimaginable. But Altman’s interpretive expansion of Carver’s spare and compressed work would probably strike them as fidelity itself after seeing the flabbily histrionic Jindabyne.

Like one of the episodes in Short Cuts, Jindabyne is based on Carver’s masterful tale “So Much Water So Close to Home,” about a party of middle-aged fishermen who discover a dead girl floating in a remote stream. Rather than report it immediately, they enjoy a weekend of fishing and camping first, then are reviled by their spouses and the world at large when their callousness is made public.  

Australian director Lawrence (Lantana) and screenwriter Beatrix Christian have padded Carver’s stark story with all manner of melodramatic bric-a-brac, including a demented serial killer who’s responsible for the girl’s demise, a clumsily executed racial angle (the dead girl is an aborigine) and a smorgasbord of dysfunctions afflicting each of the four families implicated in the scandal. Byrne and the redoubtable Linney do their best as the primary couple, but their parts as written are devoid of emotional truth.


Release details

Cast and crew

Ray Lawrence
Beatrix Christian
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