Opens: January 25, 2018
Genre: Australian western
Duration: 113 minutes
Powerfully directed by Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah), this new Australian western plays as darkly and seriously as Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, except that this time the forces of violence and retribution are rooted in the soils of colonial racism.
In outline the story is simple, though Thornton and scriptwriters Steven McGregor and David Tranter take their time in introducing all the characters and letting the twists of the tale – which were loosely inspired by real life stories – unfold. This means Thornton, who trained as a cinematographer, has plenty of time to bring the land to vixual life and explore the ways in which the characters relate to it.
Sam (Hamilton Morris), an Aboriginal workman employed by a preacher (Sam Neill) in 1920s Northern Territory, is lent out to a neighbouring stockman, Harry March (Ewen Leslie), who’s new to the area. March turns out to be not only a racist but also a rapist and potentially a murderer. A misunderstanding around a missing Aboriginal boy leads March to shoot up the house where Sam is sheltering, leading to the white landowner’s death – followed by Sam’s escape into the bush, with a rapidly convened posse led by Bryan Brown’s policeman soon on his tail.
It’s heartening to see this film of stark, elemental power being applauded around the world and garlanded with honours including best feature at the Asia Pacific Film Awards and winner of the Special Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival.
Win Tickets to this film
Transmission Films gives Limelight readers the chance to win 1 of 10 double passes to Sweet Country, screening nationally from January 25.