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Movie Review: Jindabyne

Alternate Title: Fish or Cut Bait

Story: Director Ray Lawrence (Lantana) has done it again. He has brought us a film that sticks with you long after you leave the theater. It is based on the short story, So Much Water So Close to Home, by Raymond Carver with a screenplay by Beatrix Christian.

In 1964 the older town of Jindabyne (Australia) was flooded to make way for the Snowy Region dam project. This submerged town mirrors the hidden text of this psychological tale of murder, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption in the new town of Jindabyne.

An Aboriginal girl is murdered and her body dumped. Four townsmen on their annual 'no women allowed' fishing trip discover the body in the river. They decide to continue their fishing trip and do not report the body for three days. The repercussions of this morally debased decision fills out the rest of the story.

How the town, the wives, the children, the media and the Aboriginals perceive their callous act makes for very emotional film making. If you appreciate great acting and engrossing story telling this film is for you.

Acting: Laura Linney never gives a bad performance and she is powerful as Claire, the American wife. Gabriel Byrne, is still a hottie as he ages and gives an emotionally strong performance. Chris Haywood, Deborra-Lee Furness, John Howard, Leah Purcell, Simon Stone, Alice Garner and Betty Lucas round out the wonderful ensemble cast.

Predilection: I like Laura Linney, Gabriel Byrne and director Ray Lawrence.

Critters: A dead guinea pig, a dead bird and lots of fish (some dead). You do not see the guinea pig or the bird get killed.

Food: The aforementioned fish and sandwiches.

Blatant Product Placement: 0

Soundtrack: Haunting track by Paul Kelly and Dan Luscombe

Opening Titles: The vastness of the landscape allow you entrance into this film.

Visual Art: Beautiful cinematography by David Williamson

Theater Audience: A few riveted folk.

Weather: A very sun baked Canberra, Australia.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: The lurking murderer and constant fear of imminent danger was squirmy indeed.

Drift Factor: I was riveted throughout.

Predictability Level: I did not know where this film was headed even though I has seen Robert Altman's 1993 Short Cuts, where one of his short stories was also based on this Raymond Carver tale. Inn that film, Fred Ward plays Stuart Kane, whose discovery of the girl's body and his subsequent action towards his wife Claire, Anne Archer, acts as the framework for the deeper subplot of their disintegrating marriage.

Tissue Usage: I welled up at the end.

Oscar Worthy: This fine film apparently was award worthy in other countries. It won the 2006 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The Valladolid International Film Festival gave Best Actress (Laura Linney), Best Music, the Stockholm Film Festival awarded Best Manuscript (by Beatrix Christian), the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film and the Aria Fine Arts Award gave Best Soundtrack (Australia), the Australian Screen Sound Guild Awards gave Best Achievement in Sound for Film Sound Recording, Best Achievement in Sound for Film Sound Mixing, Feature Film Soundtrack of the Year. Quite a winner I would say.

Big Screen or Rental: I am not sure if you will be able to find this film at your local theater but please rent it and some other of Laura Linney's fine films such as: The Squid and the Whale, Kinsey, Mystic River, You Can Count on Me, The Truman Show and Primal Fear.

Length: Two hours.