Movie Review: The Dry (2020)

TL;DR – in the drought stricken town of Kiewarra, Australia, a horrific tragedy has occurred involving a murder suicide. Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his home town to attend the funeral. The parents of the father who committed the murder suicide ask Falk to investigate the crime, all the while Falk is dealing with memories of his own personal tragedy as a teenager in the town which led him to flee twenty years ago.

Review (warning: spoilers)

Based on Jane Harper’s hugely successful and award winning debut novel of the same name, The Dry is a crime mystery thriller surrounding the murder suicide of a family living in the fictional country town of Kiewarra. The book was ripe to be turned into a film and Director Robert Connolly does a fantastic job in depicting a town barely surviving due to drought. The sweltering conditions, a silent antagonist that drives the people of the town to extreme behaviours and threatening to ignite bush fires both literal and figurative.

Federal Agent Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) returns to Kiewarra (his home town) after a twenty year absence. It is revealed that Falk left in inauspicious circumstances, suspected of murdering his girlfriend, Ellie Deacon (Bebe Bettencourt) two decades ago. Like the brutal drought the town has been experiencing for too long, Falk’s return triggers long memories that stir the strained emotions for both him and the locals.

Falk has only come back because he was close friends with Luke (Sam Corlett), the father who apparently shot his wife and daughter before committing suicide (the only survivor being Luke’s baby daughter who was spared). His intention is to attend the funeral, pay his respects and then get the hell out again. But Luke’s parents convince him to hang around and review the investigation.

There are two mysteries in this story. The murder suicide of Luke and his family, and the unsolved murder of Ellie. Flashbacks of Falk as a teenager, his interactions with Ellie, and the various spots by the river and in the bush where they hung out with friends are interspersed with the present events and actions Falk takes to unravel the current crime.

The cinematography by Stefan Duscio is spot on and lends to the atmosphere of a town on edge reaching boiling point. The harshness and beauty of the Australian outback are both captured and lend towards the overall feel of a story depicting characters suffering both physically (from drought) and mentally/emotionally (from tragedies).

The cast do a tremendous job capturing the heart of the characters they depict, and the film moves at a pace that keeps you guessing and wanting to see how it will all be resolved. Avid crime mystery fans will likely see where the twists and turns will come, but it’s not so much the surprises but the journey of Aaron Falk that makes the film worth watching (both Joe Klocek (young Aaron) and Eric Bana (adult Aaron) do a marvelous job).

8 out of 10

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