Thursday, 30 January 2014

REVIEW - MYSTERY ROAD


This might be the worst thing about international filmmaking. The proliferation of one nation's output, and specifically that one nation's most hackneyed tropes, serves as an influence on filmmakers worldwide. Rather than create original, compelling stories and styles unique to themselves and their country, these wannabes try to play with the big boys, and bigger does not always mean better. The narrative material in Mystery Road is not original, not compelling and, eventually, not even important. A native Australian girl is found with her throat slashed in the Outback, and in investigating her death, the native policeman assigned to the case uncovers dark details about the lives of some prominent figures in local society. Ivan Sen doesn't appear interested in following this 'mystery' (it's anything but) to its close, instead trusting all of his protagonist's assumptions and leading the plot to a climactic shootout, of all things. It's as if he thought there was just one too few cliches already in the film, and rectified the situation with a shootout. I would have recommended that this policeman be a week from retirement too, and that he begins an affair with someone connected to the girl's death, but then that wouldn't have left very much time for lots of gruff stoicism from Aaron Pedersen and blandly picturesque shots of the Aussie landscape. So he keeps that plot simple - so simple, in fact, that he doesn't even avail of subplots or red herrings, staying to the straight and narrow of this thoroughly un-mysterious storyline. Another Australian debut director recently took crime movie conventions and manipulated them into something striking and memorable - David Michod - so it's not impossible. And could I name all the brilliant films set in the Outback?! So that's not impossible either. What's unfortunately very possible, though, is that international filmmakers continue to proliferate this sort of tired rehashing of boring old movies in an attempt to gain our attention.