Director: Warwick Thornton
Writers: Steven McGregor, David Tranter
Starring: Bryan Brown, Matt Day, Tremayne and Trevon Doolan
Release Date: March 9th
A beautifully still film; with picturesque landscapes of the Australian outback, Sweet Country is directed by Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton. The film is set in 1929 in a deeply racist period in Australia’s history.
The story follows the free aboriginal man (Hamilton Morris), who after killing a white man (Ewan Leslie) in self-defence, goes on the run with his wife. Later on in the film, when Morris’ character Sam is asked why he went on the run he answers “cause I shot a white man.” This self-awareness of racism, but not a sense of the wrongness and incorrectness of it is the central point the plot explores.
We first get introduced to the characters before the plot develops its central theme. We learn the thieving nature of Philomac played brilliantly by twins, Tremayne and Trevon Doolan. We see the tenacious agonist Sergeant Fletcher (Brown) played as a hard-headed man yet we see him share a tender humane moment with his wife. This narrative structure is crafted skilfully for the film. We are kept engaged by the small events that teach us about these fully-developed characters and these events act as future setups. As we reach the main plotline we are already engrossed in these characters, knowing who to root for by the end credits.
The film often incorporates poignant flashbacks and flash-forwards to outstanding effect.
The editing in this film is absolutely incredible. The film often incorporates poignant flashbacks and flash-forwards to outstanding effect. At times you don’t even realise a scene was from a different time until later in the film. This method plays with the audience and deceives them to a powerful effect. The use of this device to get into the character mind space is profoundly moving at times. The cuts dupe you into believing something that isn’t true. This is a reflection of how, in today’s world, we take something we see in the media to be true almost immediately. The evidence isn’t something we necessary ask for; assumptions are transformed into fact. This is what we see in the plot of the story.
Finally, the film’s costume design is remarkable and essentially captures the style and fashion of the time. This could be said about the whole mise-en-scène of the interior shots, which echo the 1920s small-town ambience too.
In a nutshell: Beautiful editing and strong characters drive this film, it’s not to be missed!