This highly-acclaimed Australian film falls short of its own expectations. It constructs a highly complicated spiral of guilt, retribution and nemesis but fails to bring any of the all-pervasive darkness that shrouds the characters into any glimmer of light. In the end, you feel you are exactly where you started. There is no sense of payoff or closure as investigative officer Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) drives back from his hometown where we saw him coming at the start.
To go back to the beginning, Aaron is informed of a gruesome multiple murder of a family by the patriarch who then puts a bullet in his own head….Or so the crime scene initially suggests. Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems. When is it ever?! The Dry is set in a farming town called Kiewarra where little farming happens. The land is parched. Throats are dry. Not just for the want of water. But because the current crime that shakes the town’s folks reminds them of another murder that took place near a creek 20 years ago. And guess what? The first murder victim’s father suspects our hero Aaron of the crime.
This tangled turbulent film about characters with a traumatized past is taken from a novel by Jane Harper. And that’s where it should have remained. The Dry is, to coin an urgent word for failed translocation from print to screen, unfilmable. The plot moves in uncertain ways. And I don’t mean that positively. The ambiguity of movement suggests a lack of coherence rather than an abundance of mysterious energy. Simple questions like, how are the two murders in the past and present, connected remain unanswered. (For the record, they are not). Why is the town so convinced that Aaron was involved in the crime that was committed 20 years ago?
In the present, Eric Bana’s Aaron grows close to education at Gretchen (Genevieve O'Reilly). They embrace, kiss….yawn!By the time the two murder mysteries are solved, we the audience feel absolutely no sense of involvement. It’s not just the town of Kiewarra facing a dry spell. This film could have done with an extra dollop of emotion. This is a grim confection with very little conviction.
Director Robert Connolly fails to establish any distance from his source material. The Dry is a novel that has gone the wrong way. It should have remained on the shelf. You can watch the film for Eric Bana if you are a fan. He plays the troubled investigator with a placidity that may be a smokescreen for his character’s inner conflicts. On the other hand, it could just be the actor wondering what the hell is going on.
Directed by Robert Connolly, The Dry gets 2 stars!
Image source: IMDb, Youtube/MoviesclipTrailers