Release Date: April 27, 2007
Starring: Laura Linney, Gabriel Byrne,
Deborah-lee Furness, John
Howard, and Leah Purcell
Runtime: 123 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Ray Lawrence
Executive Producer: Philippa Bateman and Garry
Producer: Catherine Jarman
Writer: Beatrix Christian
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com
Jindabyne is a resort town in the Snowy River Mountain area. The original town, shown in a documentary played to elementary school students, was submerged in a man-made lake. One little aborigine girl, Caylin-Calandria, tells her little white friend, Tom, that the spirits of the dead townspeople live in the lake like zombies. Spiritism is the movie's recurring theme, ending up with an aborigine funeral where the whites come to apologize to the aborigines and a suggestion of reincarnation.
Little Caylin-Calandria has lost her aborigine mother and is being taken care of by her white grandparents. She is a troubled girl who talks Tom into torturing animals and takes pleasure in seeing Tom almost drown.
Tom's own mother, Claire, has severe psychological problems. Claire left home for 14 months just after Tom was born. She yells at her husband Stewart, a former Irish race car driver, that he is completely clueless and that all he does is watch TV, drink beers and fornicate badly like a machine. She hates her mother-in-law, who has some Catholic Christian sensibility and tells Claire that children are a gift from God.
After this set up, Stewart and his friends, Carl, Rocco and Billy, go into the Snowy Mountains and hike to a lonely, isolated river. There, they find the nude body of an aborigine girl who the audience saw killed and dumped in the river by a grizzled old white electrician. Rather than take the girl out of the river, they tie her up with fishing line and continue to fish for three days.
When they get back, their politically incorrect insensitivity hits the fan. The aborigines are furious. They trash their offices, throw rocks through their windows, and spray paint their buildings. Claire tries to show compassion for the aborigines while she shows that she despises Stewart and his friends.
The camera is positioned in such a way that one doesn't know whether everyone is being observed by the spirits of the dead or by the serial killer electrician. This is a very depressing, dysfunctional group of people. They are the living dead and the analogy to the flooded town is clearly made throughout the movie.
The whites eventually adopt the spiritism of the aborigines, but the heavy weight of depression is never lifted and the murderer is never caught. He just lurks around in the background.
The camerawork in JINDABYNE is beautiful. The aboriginal music is haunting. The acting is commendable. The problem is the plot. The studio representative told the reviewers that it was a long movie. What she didn't say is that it was made longer by the static dialogue and extended scenes. Clearly, the filmmaker, Ray Lawrence, wanted to show how zombie-like these people were. He did that so well that there is not one character the audience can like. Everyone is unbearable.
This may appeal to intellectuals at effete film schools, but it is hard to believe that audiences will want to see this movie. My co-reviewer wanted to walk out in the middle when some other reviewers did walk out. It is rare when reviewers walk out of movies. I have only seen it a couple of times. But, we stayed to the end and found out that the depression was multiplied by the fact that justice was never served.
The camerawork in JINDABYNE is beautiful. The aboriginal music is haunting. The acting is commendable. The problem is the depressing plot. The studio representative told the reviewers that it was a long movie. What she didn't say is that it was made longer by the static dialogue and extended scenes. Also, the movie's worldview is strongly pagan and animistic, with lots of very strong foul language, some violence, nudity, and strong sexual content. All the characters are unbearable and dysfunctional.