This movie is based on Tim Winton’s 2004 set of intervweaving short stories stories, creating a twisting plot built around a single person, but it is more landscapes and settings that form the links between them.
Several recurring emotional themes characterise the film, including frustration and regret, fascination with the sea, jealousy and envy, love and companionship, facing and recovering from the secrets of the past, adolescent growth pains and sexual awakening, and the search for God. The stories are linked tenuously by being set in and around a small coastal town in Western Australia called “Angelus”.
The central character of Vic Lang turns up in eight stories first as a child, then as a teenager and an older man, and several incidents involving him re-appear in the film in different contexts. He is played by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors.
The movie is an unique, home-grown experiment. It is the project of its creator, Robert Connolly (“Balibo”, 2009) who co-produces and co-directs the film. It has a different Director for each of the stories in Winton’s collection. The stories are autobiographical, spanning Winton’s childhood up to the time of his adolescence and beyond.
The real test of quality for this film is how much it avoids the impression of being the cinematic equivalent of a smorgasbord of tasty side-dishes. Despite the obvious stylistic differences and the ambitions of its team of directors, the movie tries to maintain a partial thread and engages the viewer. The different approaches of the 18 directors make the film about Winton’s book stimulating and interesting. Although the plot-line is confusing at times (as in the book), the film’s images have multiple interpretations that keep the viewer involved and searching for links.
This is a film very much about the shadowy side of Australia’s landscapes which Winton has captured so well in his book. The movie is beautiful to watch, makes compelling use of split-screen techniques, and is surprisingly individual in the way it paints its characters. It has moments of laughter, darkness, sadness and joy, and it is full of humanity. Relying strongly on Winton’s words, it transmits evocatively and distinctively the power of his imagery, and demonstrates the courage to be boldly different - Peter Sheehan, ACOFB
Starring Cate Blanchett, Robyn Nevin, Richard Roxburgh, Rose Byrne, Miranda Otto, Hugo Weaving, and others. Directed by Robert Connolly, Mia Wasikowska, David Wenham, Marieka Walsh, and others. MA15+. Restricted. (Strong coarse language). 180 min.