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Snowtown

Directed by Justin Kurzel

Australia, 2010

Cornerhouse, 19 November 2011

Snowtown

It is a disturbing film, virtually right from the off.

We see matters mainly from Jamie’s point of view (played by Lucas Pittaway); he is being abused and bullied and he seeks in John (Daniel Henshall) a protector and a friend.  Only it turns out that John is big on hate – heavily into revenge and persecution.

No, you wouldn’t quite call this a dark film, for all the atrocity tales place in daylight; in gloomy rooms, beneath cloudy skies.  It’s an ordinary everyday gray.

Henshall’s performance as John Bunting is extraordinary, he is at once engaging, seemingly innocuous and chilling.  Also, he has accomplices.  The killings are, in a sense, socially sanctioned.

The ending is abrupt, but by that time we have seen enough.  We know the killing won’t stop by choice.  And Jamie’s abuser will be brought to book: the ending makes clear that it’s his story that’s being told.

One point to make about this film is the almost complete absence of women: the violence is directed by men against men, a cycle of hate and abuse.  There’s an atmosphere similar to that found in Calder Willingham’s End as a Man.

Not for everyone, but a fine film nonetheless.

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