Title – The Dry (2021)
Director – Robert Connolly (Balibo)
Cast – Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell, James Frecheville, John Polson, Matt Nable
Plot – Returning to his rural Australian hometown after an apparent murder suicide involving his childhood friend, Federal Policeman Aaron Falk (Bana) gets caught up in the investigation of the crime that in turn unearths past traumas that occurred in Falk’s youth.
“When you’ve been lying about something for so long, it becomes second nature”
Review by Eddie on 04/01/2020
A name that perfectly encapsulates both its setting and also the appearance of Robert Connolly’s Australian film in the midst of a significant drought of good quality Australian productions, new local drama The Dry is one of the more memorable home grown feature films to appear in recent memory and a product that is likely to translate well overseas as its two for one whodunit mystery offers universal appeal.
Adapting author Jane Harper’s novel of the same name alongside co-screenwriter Harry Cripps, Balibo and Paper Planes director Connolly embeds the tale of Eric Bana’s big city federal police officer Aaron Falk return to his barren hometown of Kiewarra with a strong sense of feeling and place, as the unforgiving dust strewn lands hide mysteries relating to Falk’s past life in the community and the more recent tragic demise of his old friend Luke who is said to have committed suicide after murdering his wife and son.
There aren’t too many Australian films that could claim to have captured the small town rural community vibe better than Connolly does with The Dry, similarities could be made to classic Australian films like Wake in Fright or Red Dog and the town of Kiewarra (in reality communities filmed in the Wimmera region of the Australian state Victoria) and it’s one of the films biggest wins as Falk and in turn the audience get acquainted with the various locals and mysteries that seemingly lie in wait at every corner he takes.
Centre throughout most of this is the well-liked Bana who returns to the big screens in a strong way here in what’s his first local performance since Romulus My Father back in 2007 and his Hollywood expertise and experience’s certainly help add bite to Falk as a character, a quietly spoken and introverted thinker who slowly but surely morphs into someone we are rooting for along the way as his past becomes more apparent and future more desperate than ever.
Accompanied with some stunning cinematography from Stefan Duscio (making this a film worth the big screen treatment) and a haunting score from Peter Raeburn as the films slowly paced plot unfolds, The Dry is as polished of a film as you’re ever likely to get from a local production which makes it a shame some of its storytelling elements and supporting turns leave a little to be desired in an otherwise above average affair.
The joys of films of this ilk is feeling a sense of unease and unknowing about who to trust and who may be hiding potentially nefarious motivations but The Dry can’t seem to help itself from signposting big reveals that intended to surprise us later in the piece and there are a few performances within the film that commit the cardinal overacting sin that plagues most Australian features with the return of actor/director John Polson as the towns local principal most noteworthy in this regard, a shame as so much else within The Dry feels far more well-rounded.
Final Say –
A solid Australian offering that has global appeal and some fantastic elements, The Dry is one of the best local products to emerge in some time and a surefire winner for those seeking Aussie tinged dramatic mysteries.
3 1/2 Tripadviser reviews out of 5