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Jindabyne (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Ray Lawrence, who directed Lantana (2001), has come up with another character-driven story, based on a short story by Raymond Carver, So Much Water, So Close to Home.” Although this goes on for 2:03, I didn’t look at my watch that much as the acting and the situation were absorbing.

Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) and three of his buddies, Carl (John Howard), Rocco (Stelios Yiakmis), and Billy (Simon Stone) go on a fishing trip. Right at the beginning they discover the body of a dead girl floating in the river. Instead of reporting it, they tie it to a tree while they finish their three day fishing trip, then report it. When they get back to their town, Jindabyne, all hell breaks loose. Pent up emotions in all of their relationships come to the fore. Stewart’s wife, Claire (Laura Linney) isn’t particularly understanding, and what Stewart did raises hackles that were beneath the surface of their marriage.

Lawrence shoots his scenes in just one take, which is unusual. Actors often depend on many takes and relax, knowing that they can get it right in the fifth or tenth take. Not with Lawrence, he shoots it and prints it. Says Linney, “The trick is to sort of move in through the scene and just move out of it. If you start thinking too much about, ‘it’s only one take and I’ve got to get it right,’ nothing will happen and it won’t be very interesting. So there is just a sense of staying calm, knowing what you’re doing, being invested in what you’re doing and trying not to predict what’s really going to happen when the camera rolls.”

The subplot of the film is the basic difference between men and women, how they handle relationships, and how they handle crises. All the while there is the spector just below the surface that there is a serial killer out there and that he might strike again. This adds additional tension to the basic tension of the conflicted relationships among the various characters.

Probably not a film for everyone, but I enjoyed it.

March 29, 2007