Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jindabyne (2006)

Set in Australia, Jindabyne tempts you with a strong cast, the possibility of intrigue and the suggestion of a grand resolution, yet it doesn't deliver. We are led through the lives of four sets of couples; five if you include the two kids, who are pals. The main characters Claire (Laura Linney) and Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) are struggling in their marriage. They don't enjoy each other's company and his mother's presence often nearly unhinges Claire.

Their wavering marriage hits a thornier patch when Stewart and his three buddies go fishing and discover a dead young woman floating in the water. With no cell reception in this remote area and too late to hike back to the truck to call police, the men decide to continue fishing instead. Stewart secures a string around the woman's ankle so she won't float away. They proceed to fish and enjoy the sunny weather. Stewart even goes back to visit the body.

Upon weekend's end when they call regarding the dead girl, the questions begin. When did you find her? Why didn't you report it immediately? This makes the town news and unleashes racial tension as the dead girl is aborigine and the men are white. Claire is incensed with Stewart and becomes obsessed with the case.

Based on a Raymond Carver short story called "So Much Water So Close to Home," this isn't the first time this story has been made for the big screen--Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993) incorporated an adaptation. Jindabyne is much longer and provides more character details. It opens up many sub-plots, adding unnecessary complexity to the already busy story, and fails to tidy up. The acting is good but the characters don't make sense sometimes. The final scene leaves you wondering what will happen and it felt like a truly real moment.

Themes: mid-life issues, strained marriage, post-partem depression, murder, race tension

Director: Ray Lawrence

Country: Australia

Genre: Mystery/Drama

Minutes: 123

Scale: 2

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