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The Dry Fails To Suck You Into Its Gruesome Tragedy

The Dry

Starring  Eric Bana,Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell and John Polson

Directed  by  Robert Connolly

Rating: **

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.

At 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  suspect 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  in a positive way.

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 an educationist  Gretchan(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.

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