Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting vision of human culpability . . ., December 29, 2007
This review is from: Jindabyne (DVD)
This disturbing domestic drama takes a situation from a Raymond Carver story (already adapted for Robert Altman's film "Short Cuts") and dramatizes it in a far more unsettling way than Carver or Altman did. Four men in a small town in Australia get away from the women in their lives for a while by going on a fishing trip. When they get where they're going, they discover the body of a murdered woman but choose to put off notifying any authorities until they've finished what they came for - fishing. This insensitivity is the cause of an emotional upheaval that in the original story alienates one of the wives from her husband. In this film, the ramifications are much broader, disturbing the entire community and, because the victim is an aboriginal, triggering the outrage of her family and tribe.

To what extent the men's failure to act is racist or simply chauvinistic, it's difficult to say, since they are unclear themselves about what they've done. It seems to represent a general indifference that all of the characters feel toward one another - often irritable and impatient with each other, nurturing unvoiced grievances against the world and their lot in life. From the beginning, an ominous edgy pall hangs over the scenes like the mists in the surrounding mountains, while a town, we are told, lies drowned under a man-made lake. The smoky aboriginal rituals that eventually mark the end are described as a long-overdue form of purification. It's a haunting film, made especially powerful by the performance of Laura Linney as the central character, isolated emotionally from her husband and from the community, both whites and aboriginals.

Shot mostly in available light with little rehearsal (as we learn from the DVD's accompanying making-of featurette), scenes have a kinetic, spontaneous quality that with the editing make the film ready at every turn to become darker and more tragic. At two hours, it offers a haunting journey across an emotional landscape that is reflected in the imagery of fields, lakes, and mountains that provide the setting. Downbeat in its overall portrayal of human indifference to the welfare of others and the shunning of culpability, its closing scenes of resolution aren't completely persuasive, and meanwhile the murderer is still at large. Five stars for a troubling film with the courage of its convictions. Also recommended: "Somersault," another Australian film set in a similar moral universe.
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3.6 out of 5 stars (30 customer reviews)
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