REVIEW: “THE DRY” (2021) IFC Films

Standard

There is nothing like the surprise of finding a really good thriller watch unexpectedly and this wonderful, well-paced whodunnit from the steady hand of director Robert Connolly, “THE DRY”, fits the bill just perfectly. It also didn’t hurt that Eric Bana came back to his roots here, not just with an indie film, but with his own accent as well, something that’s always to be appreciated.

Adapted from the 2016 novel by Jane Harper, writers Harry Cripps and Robert Connolly, tap into something elemental about growing up around the Australian bush. Aaron Falk (Eric Bana), who grew up in the small town of Kiewarra, returns to his childhood home for the funeral of his boyhood friend, Luke Hadler (Martin Dingle Wall). Luke’s wife Karen (Rosanna Lockhart), and young son Billy (Jarvis Mitchell), have been killed with only the young baby being spared, and it is assumed that it’s a murder/suicide and Luke is the culprit. Luke’s parents Gerry (Bruce Spence) and Barb (Julia Blake), refuse to believe Luke could kill himself and his family like this and at the funeral, they ask Aaron, who is now a Detective in Melbourne, to do some unofficial investigating. He is hesitant and definitely not welcomed back by the townspeople. Only Luke’s old girlfriend Gretchen (Genevieve O’Reilly), is open to seeing him again. There is a reason for this. But he goes against the threats thrown at him by them and teams up with the young local policeman Sergeant O’Connell (Nick Farnell), and comes up with some unexpected twists and turns around each corner.

While the murder/suicide is the forefront story, we are actually dealing with two mysteries here, the one that is recent, and another that occurred twenty years previously. The film, told with flashbacks back to Aaron as a teenager (Joe Klocek). While teenage Luke (Sam Corlett) and teenage Gretchen (Claude Scott-Mitchell), were a couple, Luke was actually first attached with the beautiful Ellie Deacon (BeBe Bettencourt). The group swam in the river and drank together in the back woods outside of town. Aaron and Ellie’s romance begins to flourish as Luke’s jealousy grows, and through a note given to her at school, he invites her on a river date. She never shows, and is later found drowned. For reasons you will have to watch to suss out, Luke and Aaron concocted a story that they told of being together ‘out shooting rabbits’ – which was never really believed by anyone. In the present, Aaron confronts the deep-seated distrust from the entire town who believes he is responsible for Ellie’s death, as the killings reveal multiple sinister motives behind what could’ve really happened to her.

This film really captures the atmosphere of a small Australian country town and a really good Australian ensemble cast hold together the intriguing storyline. Bana underplays his character to let the story do the talking and just when you decide it’s right in-your-face-obvious who the obsessive killer is, and there is enough information to wrap things up 100% of what links two crimes, they throw in some extra ingredients to throw you off the scent. Again, Eric Bana is fantastic in the lead role and Genevieve O’Reilly excellent, but the younger Ellie played by Bettencourt, and younger Aaron, played by Klocek, do steal some of the show as well. There is a moment where Bettencourt sings acoustically, a haunting version “Under the Milky Way”, by the campfire, that even a week after seeing the film, I find myself still singing because it was so profound. With the characters all so complex and grey with hidden motives galore, psychological dysfunction and layering to mask them all, along with the stories behind them and the town, it creates a wonderful tight and gripping drama. The filming is beautiful but it’s not the environment that is predatory per se’, rather is the characters that move and circle one another that creates the tension and unease. 

The absolute only thing missing is a complete definitive ending, as we do have and odd moment of a blunder that seems a little suspect, but beyond that, the slow-burn and build up for the first 45 or so minutes, leads us into the last 45 minutes of all thrills and suspense.

It really makes you realize, all secrets eventually come to the surface.

‘B’

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ IFC Films

“THE DRY” IS OUT IN THEATERS AND ON DEMAND FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2021

REVIEW: “THE SNOWMAN” (2017) Universal Pictures

Standard

“THE SNOWMAN” follows Norwegian detective, Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender). Harry has been struggling with drinking and is no longer given any cases when he reluctantly returns to the police force after receiving a note warning him that more women will end up dead. This all is stemming from an old serial killer case that still haunts him. Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) is transferred from Bergen, has her own personal reasons for getting involved in the case, and Hole ends up helping her with the investigation into the sadistic serial killer.

It seems the women the killer targets kinda have a link that they all have children. Or so it first seems, but it is actually that they have children who they won’t tell or don’t know who the father is. Which all seems a little bit strange at times, but I guess links a little bit to a plot if you really think about it. You get bored with thinking about it though, as things just get messier and crazier. With so many different things going on in an attempt to confuse the viewer and make them unsure of well what is actually going on altogether to be honest. I guess that is just one of the many problems with the film as it just has to many to really count or try to filter through. Though the fact that everyone is speaking English in Norway without even a nod to note that this is a film totally and completely based and filmed in Norway, is blinding. Remember how they did this with the Americanized version of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ – and while that was no winner of a film, it would win an Oscar up against this mess of a film.

I’m not sure what else there is to say on this review except to try to find out whom is responsible for this terribly done film version of one of the creepiest books I ever read. Is it Fassbender, whom for the most part I’m such a fan of but is dead of anything bearing performance here. Is it Rebecca Ferguson whom we had such high hope for after her fantastic performance in the Mission Impossible franchise, but here is just lacking any luster in her performance. Surely not J.K. Simmons as gazillionaire businessman Arve Stop, who seems to be doing some sort of attempt at a Scandinavian lilt-meets-evil-industrialist voice thing, or a lost-looking Val Kilmer wandering through a subplot as Rafto, Katrina’s father and ex-policeman who was murdered by the killer, as they are in it for two blink-and-you-missed-it scenes – though I will point out both are featured in a much larger way in the book. Or Chloe Sevigny as identical twins or Charlotte Gainsbourg as Harry’s ex-girlfriend Rakel who also has one of the most bizarrely bland love scenes ever filmed with Fassbender. Or is it simply the overly annoying roughly 600 shots of a snowman.

Again, I read the book some years back, and still with that, I could not figure out for the life of me what was happening in this film. No two scenes really connected with each other and I guess the topper would be my guest.. who at one point I heard a small snore come from. Yep, that about sums it up. I would truly give this film an F but for the fact it has some of the most beautiful scenery and roads filming I’ve seen in some time. Made me want to leave the theater immediately and go book a ticket to Norway.

What I do know is that Martin Scorsese’s name is on the film and so is director Tomas Alfredson and they both know better.

Grade: D
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
“THE SNOWMAN” is now playing in theaters nationwide.