© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

Anyone who may have seen SHORT CUTS, the
late Robert Altman's 1993 adaptation of a
selection of short stories by American writer
déja vù as they watch JINDABYNE.
That's because the Carver tale, "So Much Water
So Close to Home," was included as one of the
plot strands in the former and is the sole basis
for the latter. Basically, the drama centers on a
group of fishermen who set off for a weekend
trip and discover the body of a young woman.
Instead of seeking assistance immediately, they
fish and camp for the duration before contacting
the authorities at the end of their trip. Such
callousness creates tension in their community
and with one wife in particular.

JINDABYNE is only the third film directed by
Ray Lawrence. Where there was a 16 year gap
between his debut (
BLISS) and his sophomore
effort (the superb
LANTANA), it has taken him
only five years to return to movie theaters.
JINDABYNE is not quite as successful as
his last effort, it is a worthy and worthwhile
drama. If anything,
JINDABYNE suffers from an
excess of riches. It features superb
cinematography by David Williamson, a strong
screenplay by ascendant playwright Beatrix
Christian (making her debut as a screenwriter)
and a strong cast. If anything, I wanted to know
more about some of the characters.

JINDABYNE is a small town in New South
Wales and in many ways, it is very much like
rural America in the 1940s. There is a sense of
isolation, despite cell phones and other modern
conveniences. In one of the scripts nicest
touches, several of the characters, especially
the couples played by John Howard and
Deborra-lee Furness and Laura Linney and
Gabriel Byrne, are haunted by the past. For the
former, it is the death of their daughter who left
behind a precocious and possibly psychic child
(Eva Lazzaro). For the latter, it is events that
occurred following the birth of their six-year-old
son Tom (Sean Rees-Wemyss), when the child's
mother suffered severe postpartum depression.

The film is like a beautifully woven tapestry.
There are several plot strands, some of which
are resolved, some not. Issues of race and
class, religion and faith, mental instability and
sanity, life and death, blame and forgiveness,
right and wrong are raised, discussed,
addressed and sometimes discarded. There are
no easy answers in the film and it provides a
welcome relief from the horror and action films
that are filling the multiplexes.
tackles adult topics in a subtle and intriguing
manner. While it is not quite appropriate to say
the film is "entertaining," it certainly is

The cast is uniformly superb, with special
mention to Byrne and Linney who limn the most
damaged and haunted couple. He fears she is
slipping into madness again while she struggles
to make sense of how her husband could have
acted so insensitively. Howard and Furness are
also quite good as the older couple struggling
with the guilt and anger over their daughter's
death. Leah Purcell delivers a strong turn as an
Aborigine schoolteacher, while Stelios Yiakmis
does a fine job as her erstwhile boyfriend and
one of the men on the fishing expedition. Fine
support is also offered by Alice Garner and
Simon Stone as a young couple struggling in
their first years of marriage and Betty Lucas is
exemplary as Byrne's meddlesome mother.

If anything, the scope and ambition of
JINDABYNE  is too great to hold all the ideas
that screenwriter Christian and director
Lawrence wish to address. Nevertheless, the
movie is worth checking out; there are so few
films that address human concerns with such
complexity and care that when they do come
along, there is cause for celebration.

Rating:                B+
MPAA Rating:        R for disturbing
                         images, language
                         and some nudity
Running time       123 mins.

Viewed at the SONY Screening Room
L to R: John Howard as Carl, Laura Linney as Claire
Kane, Gabriel Byrne as Stewart Kane, Leah Purcell as
Carmen (partially obscured), Stelios Yiakmis as Rocco
and Deborra-lee Furness as Jude in

Photo by Anthony Browell
© April Films (JINDABYNE) P/L 2006.
Courtesy: Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved.