Title – Burning Man (2011)
Director – Jonathan Teplitzky (Gettin’ Square)
Cast – Matthew Goode, Bojana Novakovic, Essie Davis, Rachel Griffiths, Kate Beahan
Plot – Sydney chef Tom (Goode) finds his life turned upside down and his way of living halted it its tracks after a tragedy strikes his family.
“Be careful that you don’t go so far out that you can’t find your way back”
Review by Eddie on 2/12/2015
Unconventional and confronting, Jonathan Teplitzky’s 2011 Australian film Burning Man is one of those rare movies that possess a disquieting power over the viewer that brings them in and just as easily crushes them as it does charm them. That this power has been so rarely experienced by viewers with this film by fact they’ve either bypassed or simply not known about this stunning drama is a mighty shame, as fans of uncompromising film-making are missing out on one extraordinary ride.
Jonathan Teplitzky announced himself as a filmmaker to watch with his 2003 Aus crime caper Gettin’ Square and while it took him the many years in between to deliver Burning Man, it was both worth the wait and an incredibly leap in ambition in a pure delivery sense with Burning Man far removed from Gettin’ Square’s rough charms in almost every sense of filmmaking craft.
Told in a non-linear fashion, Teplitzky’s tale unfolds in an at first off-putting fashion that unravels slowly but surely to create something more powerful than a more conventional example could’ve ever achieved. It’s done by an assured hand, the film looks gorgeous (highlighted by a stunningly realised car crash) thanks to DOP Garry Phillips, is scored movingly by Lisa Gerrard who rose to fame from her work on Gladiator and features a cast of performers who deliver all at once, career best turns. It’s an Australian production that puts many of its counterparts to shame and was duly recognised by both critics and local awards ceremonies but never truly resonated with local audiences which is a real shame and most likely did so due to its touchy subject matters.
To say Burning Man is an easy watch would be wrong, it’s a no holds barred look at grief, illness and love, staples of cinema that are common but never delved into the way in which they are here. It’s a tricky subject to get right but Teplitzky and his actors handle it with aplomb thanks to considered humour and a beating heart.
The heart and soul of Burning Man is exemplified by Brit Matthew Goode in the lead role of Tom. So good as a support in both Watchman and A Single Man, Goode shines here as the grieving chef Tom. His world class turn in paramount to Burning Man’s successes and finds able support in the never better Bojana Novakovic and Essie Davis. Both the rawness and frankness of these performances are elements you rarely find in motion pictures today, both Australian and afar off.
Unforgettable despite some minor flaws, Burning Man is quite frankly one of Australia’s finest ever dramatic motion pictures that manages to be both heartfelt and affecting and never once played to cheap emotional touches, and the less known about the stories nuances the better. A grand achievement for all involved and a film worthy of your time, Burning Man is the underrated classic sought by all those who appreciate cinema at its most poignant and original.
4 ½ lucky lobsters out of 5