15 August 2002 | burpboy
Superb. Original. Captivating. Finally,this important but dark part of Australia's history has been dealt with cinematically in a thorough and intelligent way.
I left this brilliant film being excited and proud to be an aspiring Australian film-maker. What a film experience. Surely this is one of the great Australian films, certainly of this current year and without doubt for a long time. I say this film made me feel proud but really, as I was sitting after the film enjoying the warm sunshine and the beauty of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour, I was quite ashamed and saddened to be an Australian. The film deals with a very dark and still repressed area of Australian history that goes to the very heart of what it means to be an Australian, what out heritage is and what our role is in relation to this heritage. Rather than give a synopsis (they are always so boring) of how the film deals with these issues, I would just simply implore everyone everywhere (not just Australians) to see this film. I really believe the film has importance and resonance for all people, apart from its issues and meaning I think the film is simply film-making of the highest calibre. Bold, creative, subtle at times as well as appropriately disturbing and unsettling when it needs to be. Rolf De Heer has surely made his best film, a film to make you stand up and take notice of his ability. Visually beautiful (what an amazing country we have) and the use of Aboriginal singer Archie Roach's haunting songs is inspired and integral to the film's impact. I have to make special mention of the actors. Basically the film is a four-hander with Grant Page, Gary Sweet, Damon Gameau and David Gulpill giving outstanding performances. Particularly Sweet, giving authority and complexity to a unlikeable role that Australians would be not used to seeing after his television appearances. Can I also reserve a particular rave for Damon Gameau who plays the role of the young follower. Gameau, just out of drama school, is a real find. The Australian press have not given him the praise that he deserves and acknowledged the exceptional way he manages to convincingly capture the complicated shifts in the arc of his character's journey. For me at the end of the film, Gulpill and Gameau together onscreen deliver the film's final moments with such sensitivity and beautiful chemistry that you can't help but be incredibly moved.
Finally I want to say that above all, at the centre of the story, David Gulpill is just extraordinary (one interviewer described him as our biggest Aboriginal movie star, certainly his performance has to be the highlight of his long and significant career.)You feel everything this film has to say, every part of its journey in his performance. You feel the injustice, the horror, the abuse, the loss of culture and identity. Conclusively, you feel for real that being an Australian means acknowledging that our country, as we now know it, was founded on the invasion and near-obliteration of a pre-existing people and their culture.