Title – Healing (2014)
Director – Craig Monahan (The Interview)
Cast – Hugo Weaving, Don Hany, Xavier Samuel, Mark Leonard Winter, Anthony Hayes, Tony Martin, Justine Clarke
Plot – The look into lives of prison inmates led by the long serving Viktor Khadem (Hany) who is charged by kindly prison officer Matt Perry (Weaving) to look after a newly realised program in which inmates are paired with injured game birds in the aim of rearing them back to full health and back into the wild.
“He may have been a hard man once. His just an old man now”
Review by Eddie on 27/11/2014
An amiable, well filmed, yet unfulfilled Australian movie, Craig Monahan’s Healing is an easy to like but strangely cold drama that continues on the modern day trend of local movies failing to reach their potential, and in this case failing to do so despite a very rounded and experienced cast.
Healing should’ve provided meaty roles to some of Australia’s most experienced talent (Hugo Weaving), underrated talent (Don Hany from TV’s East West 101), up and coming talent (Xavier Samuel) and renowned supporting talent (Anthony Hayes) yet Monahan as writer/director doesn’t illicit enough emotional heft to make audience members care and in turn be affected by the plight of these men. Weaving by far comes off best as kind and caring prison officer Matt Perry while Hany can’t quite grasp the accent or the pent up rage of lead Viktor Khadem while Samuel and Hayes are wasted on stereotypical prison inmates in the form of young inmate Paul and prison kingpin Warren respectively. Monahan can also be blamed for failing to capitalise on his metaphorical story of inwardly healing with the films central story conceit.
Around the story of these troubled men is the fact inmates lead by Khadem have been charged with the provision of a bird sanctuary in which birds of prey are nursed back to health and subsequently released back into the wild – no guesses in what the birds represent. This story plight feels sadly underutilised and much like many plot developments within the film, wholly unneeded. Moments within the film showcasing Mark Leonard Winter’s (who perhaps steals the movie in an acting sense) Shane attending his brother’s funeral or Weaving’s Matt dealing with the death of his young daughter all feel like side parts that play no real meaningful stepping stone in an unfocused story.
Monahan has made one of Australia’s greatest ever dramas in the form of his 1998 Hugo Weaving starring The Interview and in the time following has only made the disappointing Peaches and now this equally mediocre Healing, which is a shame considering his obvious talent. Healing is a hard film to hate thanks to its commendable intentions yet a hard film to love thanks to its mismanaged final product. Better than most Australian films of recent times, yet sadly that’s not much of an achievement. Disappointingly forgettable, Healing never soars to the heights it so easily could’ve reached with the talent on hand.
2 Eagle helmets out of 5