Film Review – Hearts and Bones (2019)

Title – Hearts and Bones (2019)

Director – Ben Lawrence (Ghosthunter)

Cast – Hugo Weaving, Andrew Luri, Hayley McElhinney

Plot – Sydney based war photographer Dan Fisher (Weaving) is preparing for an upcoming high-profile exhibition of his works when he comes across Sudanese taxi driver Sebastian Ahmed (Luri) whose village was a part of some of Fisher’s most famed photographs. The two strike up a friendship but their relationship opens up wounds within both of them.

“I photograph what my conscious tells me to” 

Review by Eddie on 09/06/2020

Originally scheduled for a mid-scale cinema run, Ben Lawrence’s follow-up to his brilliant Aussie doco Ghosthunter and debut as a narrative feature was made more readily available to stream/purchase due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its a local offering worth tracking down, even if it never hits the real emotional highs it’s aiming for.

A heavy drama that isn’t prone to any bouts of humor or relief from an onslaught of heavy subject matter, including PTSD, death and war, Hearts and Bones is the type of dreary drama that Australian cinema does so well as we follow Hugo Weaving’s emotionally wounded Sydney based photographer Dan Fisher, who has made a career out of documenting the worlds various wars and conflicts.

There’s clearly a lot going on in Dan’s life, haunted by the things his seen and also the grief in his own life and it all comes to a head when his partner Josie informs him that she is pregnant and when Andrew Luri’s Sebastian Ahmed’s Sudanese immigrant/taxi driver makes himself known to Dan and asks that photos Dan took of his terrorized village don’t appear in an upcoming public exhibition.

Safe to say the film takes on various twists and turns as Dan and Sebastian strike up a friendship of sorts and the two conflicted men come to terms with the ailments that are troubling their everyday thoughts and movements.

As always, we get an extremely committed and heartfelt turn from Weaving who never delivers a performance that isn’t further proof his one of our very best acting exports and the debut performance of Andrew Luri (an actor with no previous experience) is solid stuff but Lawrence’s and co-writer’s Beatrix Christian’s narrative doesn’t always lend itself to the most engaging of elements and a fair portion of the films big moments aren’t all that shocking when they’ve been signposted for a long time previous to being unveiled.

There’s also an air of implausibility to how Dan, a seemingly private person, strikes up such a committed friendship with Sebastian who himself doesn’t strike one as the most genuine or charismatic of figures.

It’s never really apparent why Dan see’s something worth his time in Sebastian or his demand, no more evident than in the under explored side plot of Sebastian community music group/choir, a plot strand that may as well of remained on the writing room floor.

Final Say – 

A well filmed and performed Australian drama that never hits the dramatic beats it aspires to, Hearts and Bones starts out promisingly enough but on its quest to explore its topically themes, gets lost in a slightly unbelievable and only mildly engaging character driven drama.

3 washing machines out of 5 

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