Eric Bana may get his name in the light of the marquee, but the tension that arises in director Robert Connolly’s adaptation of Jane Harper’s bestselling novel, The Dry, comes from the drought-ridden countryside of the rural Victoria becomes a living, breathing character in the film.
Connolly receives great support in this task from cameraman Stefan Duscio, who was also behind the camera for the visually appealing Aussie film from 2019, Judy & Punch.
For those who haven’t read the book, which was selected as an option prior to release by Australian producer Bruna Papandrea (The Nightingale, Big Little Lies), the story centers around Federal Police agent Aaron Falk (Bana) who is returning to the country where he grew up to attend a funeral.
Not just any funeral, mind you – it’s the ceremony for his best buddy in high school who apparently shot his wife and child before pointing the gun at himself.
Needless to say, the small community is shaken by the violence and Falk will soon be forced to dig a little to see if this open case contains more than meets the eye.
But it’s not just the recent wounds that are being reopened with Falk’s investigation – his own troubled past in the city is nowhere near forgotten by the locals, some of whom are all too keen after a few foams take a dip at the Fed in the pub.
Bana’s return down under is welcomed in his first Australian film since 2007, Romulus, My Father. The Dirty John star has a steely, reserved demeanor that goes well with the figure.
Irish actor Genevieve O’Reilly is as good as Falk’s childhood friend Gretchen, while the rest of the company, including John Polson and Miranda Tapsell, perform well in the smaller roles.
In classic crime thriller fashion, Connolly teases the audience here and there with a red herring and a range of characters who seem to be hiding all motifs and something.
The director who gave us the Hit Paper Planes in 2014 is also good at managing a hefty dose of flashbacks that work out the story for the most part without detracting from the rising action of the present.
Most of all, it’s wonderful to see an actor of Bana’s caliber in a local production.
All too often we see our talent for Hollywood take off and only come back after her star has darkened significantly.
Money is a big part of it, of course, but hopefully the quality of The Dry inspires other actors to follow Bana home.
News – AU – Eric Banas The Dry could draw stars to Aus