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Film Review: Jindabyne

Posted on the 15 August 2013 by Donnambr @_mrs_b
About Jindabyne (2006) Jindabyne Stewart Kane, an Irishman living in the Australian town of Jindabyne, is on a fishing trip in isolated hill country with three other men when they discover the body of a murdered girl in the river. Rather than return to the town immediately, they continue fishing and report their gruesome find days later. Stewart’s wife Claire is the last to find out. Deeply disturbed by her husband’s action, her faith in her relationship with Stewart is shaken to the core. She wants to understand and tries to make things right. In her determination to help the victim’s family Claire sets herself not only against her own family and friends but also those of the dead girl. Her marriage is taken to the brink and her peaceful life with Stewart and their young son hangs in the balance. The story of a murder and a marriage. A powerful and original film about the things that haunt us.

Starring: Laura Linney, Gabriel Byrne, John Howard, Stelios Yiakmis, Simon Stone

Directed by: Ray Lawrence

Runtime: 123 minutes

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


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Review: Jindabyne

Ray Lawrence’s Australian drama is not just about a murder but about the fragile relationship between white settlers and the Aboriginal people. Set in the town of Jindabyne, a local Aboriginal girl is murdered and her near naked body dumped in a river. She is discovered by a quartet of friends – Stewart (Gabriel Byrne), Carl (John Howard), Rocco (Stelios Yiakmis) and Billy (Simon Stone) – who are away on a weekend fishing trip. They find the body on a Friday but decide to continue their trip until Sunday, tying the girl’s body to the edge of the river, and then report what they have found afterwards. When the local media, the law and the people of Jindabyne learn what the four men have done, it causes great upheaval in the community and incites the fury of the girl’s family.

We witness the death of the girl at the outset by Gregory (Chris Haywood), a local electrician who has targeted her for no reason other than her ethnicity. When Stewart finds the girl’s body he and his friends are understandably shocked but what isn’t certain is why they delay in reporting the incident. Is it because the girl isn’t white? We never find out. Whatever the reason, the town of Jindabyne is appalled by the actions of the men but you get the feeling this is less about their disrespect for the dead girl but more about how it makes their community look. The four men see their homes and businesses targeted by young Aboriginal men who are understandably furious about what has happened to a friend, daughter and family member from their community. The people of Jindabyne don’t seem especially concerned about the girl’s family, aside from Stewart’s wife Claire (Laura Linney), who becomes the mediator between the two communities and is the only one that tries to pay her respects. The question is whether the girl’s killer is uncovered and how will the town of Jindabyne ever be the same again?

Jindabyne has a great cast delivering some suitably tense, gritty and delicate performances in equal measure. Byrne and Linney are the highlights but the entire cast contribute to this thought-provoking drama. In the end it becomes less about the investigation into the girl’s death and more about how her body is treated so disrespectfully. Any film with race relations is never an easy watch and Jindabyne is in the same vein. What works well is that there are no easy fixes in the end. Claire’s courage looks to try and heal the rift between the two communities but as the final reels loom there remains tension and it is an apt denouement.

Jindabyne is a well-acted drama that begins as a murder mystery but drifts towards a fascinating study of two communities driven further apart by the unthinkable actions of four men. This is one of those films where you can speculate how the men would have responded had they found a white girl in the river instead. Their actions in dealing with their discovery are appalling and what follows is a tense and moving drama as a community ripped apart tries to repair the damage.

Verdict: 4/5

(Film source: reviewer’s own copy)

Film Review: Jindabyne

About the Author:

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I now live in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.

David M. Brown – who has written 823 posts on Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave.


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