Monday, August 06, 2007

Jindabyne (Not A Review)

Update: I am taking a bit of a break being summer and all, be back soon. I will visit your blogs though. Take care and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Jindabyne, is the rather unusual name of a movie that I saw a couple of weeks back at TheatreN in Wlimington, DE. I was drawn to this movie for two reasons, I love watching independent cinema and I saw the trailer of this movie while watching the lovely French comedy “The Valet” and was intrigued by the story and the mystery that it seemed to convey “The place has a magical/supernatural hold on the 4 male protagonists” the voice over declared. This film was also directed by Ray Lawrence who was also responsible for the excellent Lantana.

Jindabyne ( 36°24′S, 148°37′E) is a town in New South Wales, Australia that overlooks Lake Jindabyne near the Snowy Mountains, in Snowy River Shire. It is a popular holiday resort, especially in winter, due to its proximity to ski resorts in the Kosciuszko National Park, including Thredbo and Perisher Blue.

It is in this town and the region it is in that this film’s story unfolds. The movie begins with a local tradesman sitting behind some rocks off of a desolate road in his truck scanning the road for his prey and she is coming up the road. Cutting back to the town we get to know these 4 working class guys Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) Carl (John Howard), Rocco (Stelios Yiakmis) and Billy (Simon Stone) and their families including Stewart’s wife Claire (Laura Linney), Carl’s wife Jude (Deborra-Lee Furness) as they get ready for their annual fishing trip into the isolated high country. It is this trip and their discovery on it that will alter their lives and those of their loved ones that constitute the central theme of this movie which is based on a short story by Raymond Carver.

The four fishing buddies find the bound and abused body of an Aboriginal woman in the river and rather than make the trek back to where they left their vehicle and report the find as it is late, they decide to spend the next day fishing. It is not just the fact that they don’t report this crime, but Stewart wades in to the water and tethers the victim to the bank with his fishing rope around her ankles as they are worried the body might get washed downstream and in the falls.

Done with their fishing and pictures with their catch they head back and inform the police.

Stewart gets into bed with Claire and for a moment we think as if he is going to tell her about what happened but instead we see him just sleep, he seems untroubled by what has happened as are his friends.

Claire find out what happened next morning when a police detective stops by to ask Stewart a few questions and she is justifiably livid that he never bothered to tell her even as he grabbed her breast and kissed her as he got into bed. We see similar reactions from the wives/girlfriends of the remaining guys. The difference being Claire single handedly (along with her son) in an attempt to make amends raises money from the people in the town for the poor family to pay for the girls funeral, the rest of the parties involved just seem to want to move on although they seem sorry about their thoughtless act.

Their callous act is soon nationwide news as their pictures get plastered across the newspapers and on television and they become targets of scorn from the townsfolk. But it is not that simple, especially when the victim is a young Aborigine, especially a woman. The state of the indigenous people of Australia has been well documented (link 1, 2) and it is not a surprise that this is a factor in the response to the crime which the viewer will see take the form of callous comments from some of the citizenry and the investigating officers. Some of the outrage from the indigenous community takes the form of attacks and vandalism against the four fishing buddies.

Claire incensed at this whole sorry affair resolves to get to the bottom of it and it drives things to the point where it creates a rift between the families and Stewart, where she finally decides to leave him and attend the victim’s funeral despite her past attempts to reach out to them being rebuffed.

Things come to a head at the funeral. will Claire’s attempt to make amends be welcomed? What about Stewart? Will he be able to stop the slow downward spiral his life threatens to take? What about the rest of his friends? What about the killer who is a part of the community?

These will be answered if any of you are curious enough to see the movie. Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney are brilliant, especially Laura Linney whose portrayal of a woman whose faith in her husband and marriage are shaken to its foundations stands out. The rest of the cast is great too and these characters (even the relatively minor players) are not cardboard cutouts but richly created in all their strengths and foibles, and this may have contributed to making the movie a bit long, but it also made for a more rewarding experience from my point of view. I loved the region in which the movie has been filmed and it was a treat to watch.

I liked the movie and if you have a couple of hours free to catch this one in the theater or on DVD then do try to catch it. It received a 65% freshness rating at rotten tomatoes. As per them

Rotten Tomatoes awards the Certified Fresh accolade to theater releases reviewed by 40 or more Approved Tomatometer Critics (including 5 critics from the Cream of the Crop) that score at least 75% or higher on the Tomatometer. A film remains Certified Fresh unless its Tomatometer falls below 60%. Reserved for the best-reviewed films, the Certified Fresh accolade constitutes a seal of approval, synonymous with quality
So make what you will about that and my “Not a review”.

Having seen both Jindaybye and Lantana, I have to say that the latter was a much better movie and far more engrossing, but then again it was a different movie. This is a movie that will haunt you for a while after you finish watching it. It is a movie about the rituals (ancient and/or modern) that constitute the rhythms of a community and explores the effects of love, grief and loss upon it’s members and the community as a whole.


Aditi said...

how can anyone spend a day fishing with a dead body in the vicinity and not flinch

AVIANA said...

thanks for the review...

i definitely will watch the valet...

seems like my type and since i speak french it will be an extra bonus...

how are you? happy monday/tuesday!

Sai said...

I love Independent films! I cannot imagine how anyone can be so callous and spend a day fishing....really disturbing!

Ash said...

Interesting review!

Keshi said...

heard alot abt this movie here in Aus...but never got a chance to see it yet.


Diana said...

Laura Linney usually does very good work in very good films.

Have a refreshing break. You will be missed.

Sanjay said...

@Aditi.. True, Stuart is horrified with his discovery, which made what he did later feel really odd.

@Aviana.. Thanks very much. Hope you are doing well?

@Sai. True, You may like this movie in that case.

@Ash, thanks.

@Keshi.Maybe you will get a chance to see this movie, hope you do.

@Diana. Indeed she does do a great job. Thank you for your kind words.

Keshi said...

ooo do I see a hot shot of Sanjay on the sidebar? ;-)


Anali said...

I like the new look! You have all kinds of new things happening here. And very nice photo of you too!

Sanjay said...

@Keshi..It's me there yes not sure about the hot shot part of it though.

@Anali. Thanks that is very kind of you.

MONA said...

Hi sanjay. how have you been? I hope you are doing good!

Cacophoenix said...

Hey, Thanks for still coming around. I was off on a really really long holiday, but now that I am back you can expect to hear everywhere my feet have been and more. Seriously troubling picture, and seriously good review. I do feel that the world is fast becoming like that though. Here we have a president callously tying the future of a country to a solitary burnt, dead tree and being able to go to sleep..Art imitates life

Sugarlips said...

I would love to watch this movie BUT the fishing part is kinda disturbing, how can one be so hard-hearted?

Stay Beautiful...!!

Sanjay said...

@Mona. I am fine thanks for asking. I am on a bit of a break. I hope things are well with you?

@Cacophoenix, Thanks for stopping by, good to know that you are back.

@Sugarlips. Despite the fishing part the movie is worth watching. That scene is pivotal to the movie but the rest of the movie is also about a lot more.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Sanjay!

First of, allow me to compliment you on the new and improved layout of your blog. You've done a remarkable job, everything's so neat and I love all the different features as well as the great links. I really need a blog makeover, I am going to have to come to you for tips, if that's OK. I also love the new photo...even though it's hardly revealing I can tell you look fit! :)

With regard to Jindabyne, thank you for an excellent and thorough write-up. Although the movie sounds dark and sad, you really make me want to see the movie. I know it's been suggested here before, but you really ought to consider writing movie reviews professionally, you do a great job of providing us with very readable and entertaining write-ups. Thank you so much!

Sanjay said...

Hey Lotus, Welcome back!!!! Hope your vacation was good? Thank you so very much for your comments about the blog. I am glad you like it. Had some time so I played around with the code.

And yes am always glad to help to help with anyway that I can with your blog. Glad you liked the picture too it is all those hours doing weights and running, I guess. :-)

I am glad you loved the review, and the movie though sad was very illuminating about the foibles of humans and our prejudices, it was also about forgiveness and redemption. I am not sure if I can really write professional reviews, the ones I read are so much better. This is just my small way of documenting how the movie spoke to me, but I so value your opinion, so thank you again. It is good to see you back.

Keshi said...

Happy Independence Day!


WGG, Rogue Scholar & Tokin Lib'rul said...

Strikes me as a rather obvious comment on how convenience purges our ethics...

i dig gabriel byrne. one of my utter faves is "into the West," No, not the one i was in), with byrne and ellen burstyn.