27 December 2015 | gradyharp
It is what it is – a group exhibition
THE TURNING is a breath of fresh air, an experimental Australian film based of the short stories of the gifted writer Tim Winton. Every aspect of the film is unique, challenging and utterly mesmerizing. The quiet animated opening sequence 'Ash Wednesday' (based on TS Eliot's poem of the same name, is simply an eerie animation narrated by off screen Colin Friels and sets the mood for the episodes to come.
The film is divided in to eighteen short segments - Big World, Aquifier, Abbreviation, Ash Wednesday, Damaged Goods, Small Mercies, On Her Knees, Cockleshell, The Turning, Sand, Family, Long, Clear View, Reunion, Commission, Fog, Boner McPharlin's Moll, Immunity (a wordless, modern dance piece), and Defender – and presented as a three- hour epic based on Tim Winton's short story collection, THE TURNING, and explores the impact of past on present, how the seemingly random incidents that change and shape us can never be escaped or let go of. All of the stories are bound together by recurring themes: the passing of time, regret, addiction and obsession.
The stories are set on a coastal stretch of Western Australia, 'a stunning collection of connected stories is about turnings of all kinds -- changes of heart, slow awakenings, nasty surprises and accidents, sudden detours, resolves made or broken. Brothers cease speaking to each other, husbands abandon wives and children, grown men are haunted by childhood fears. People struggle against the weight of their own history and try to reconcile themselves to their place in the world. With extraordinary insight and tenderness, Winton explores the demons and frailties of ordinary people whose lives are not what they had hoped.'
Each of the book's 18 stories is interpreted on film by a different team of filmmakers, including collaborators from the worlds of theatre, photography, visual art and dance. Characters re-appear in different episodes at different stages of their lives, fleshed out in snapshots that explore recurring themes from different angles. The lives of fishermen, surfers, AFL players, the working class and angst-ridden suburbanites are chronicled with sometimes dark themes, including alcoholism, child homicide and police corruption. A number of key episodes feature Aboriginal characters and symbols. Though the film courts the mystical, it's grounded with romance and macabre suspense.
Overlooked by many, this film is one for the most poetically satisfying visual experiences and deserves far more attention than it has received.