The wonderful Gabriel Byrne introduced this movie to us all, unfortunately he didn't stay for a public Q&A afterwards, however the introduction as very good.
This is a slow paced film with great cinematics and two superb performances from the leads Laura Linney and Byrne.
Interestingly Byrne said that this film had won an Award from the Festival, strange when we aren't even half way through the press screenings and this was a public screening. So was this a staff award?
That aside the film looks gorgeous, with some fantastic landscapes and great looking shots. Along with this is a fantastically haunting score.
The film is about four guys who are off on their annual fishing trip in the middle of nowhere, while there they find the body of a murdered aboriginal woman but they decide to stay and keep fishing rather than cut the trip short. So they stay, enjoy the fishing, and when they return their decision begins to affect their lives, those close to them, and the entire town.
As said, Byrne is superb in the role and he moves from touching family moments to those when he is falling apart with ease. The hair dye and the restaurant scene are well scripted and played, they give such a realism to the characters and the friendships.
Linney is just as strong, and her character played against her Mother in Law is another great moment of the film. She shows so much held in emotion in some of her scenes.
Interestingly Byrne retains his Irish accent and Linney her American. Here there's been no need to hide either and conform so that either Linney was Irish, Byrne was American or much worse that the both had Australian accents. I am sure that they could have carried them, however I like the fact that there wasn't felt a great need to do so.
Deborra-Lee Furness gives a strong performance, and another thoroughly convincing one. She too carries a fair amount of frustration and held in emotion that comes through in every scene.
The scenes with the murderer have well built tension, again the pace is slow and this is used to great effect. Whenever we see him return and these points come back on screen the feelings of something awful about to happen return.
Some of these scenes grow so painfully intense that I really did feel like shouting at the characters, often because they do nothing or completely the wrong thing, like life I would suggest.
It's the characters that really make this film and hold it together. They are well scripted and performed, and give the story a strong authenticity.
However the story thread with children seems slightly out of place and unexplored. Their issues are prominent before the events start to touch the town, and their story feels started but taken nowhere. This confused and distracted me somewhat.
I did enjoy the film, the characters and their relationships were the strongest part of the film without a doubt. I'm so glad that they didn't pick the two obvious Hollywood endings, either the sickly sweet or the terrible tragedy. Instead we get the in between which carries some of both. Again, much like real life.