Review | ‘Dirt Music’ shows off the beauty of Western Australia

Dirt Music | Dir: Gregor Jordon | ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Based on the award-winning Australian novel by Tim Winton, Dirt Music is one of those films that looks good, especially on the big screen. It is a spectacular advertisement for Western Australia, with locations ranging from the pristine beaches in the south to the red dirt and remote islands in the north.

As background – Georgie (Kelly Macdonald) met Jim Buckridge (David Wenham) when he was on holiday with his two young children in Bali after the death of his wife. She had been searching for a safe place and she now wanders around Jim’s comfortable ocean-view house while he is out catching crayfish with his crew and the children are at school.

There is no real place for Georgie in Jim’s life and this becomes apparent when Jim returns to port with after one of his crew members has had an accident. When she offers her nursing skills, she is told it is ‘not her place’ to become involved.

Also pulling up Jim’s crayfish pots is poacher Lou Fox (Garrett Hedlund), a troubled young man who is struggling to come to terms with surviving an accident which claimed his brother, his brother’s wife and his niece. When he meets the aimless Georgie, he ends up stealing her from Jim as well.

Georgie finds herself in love with two rugged men who tame the land and the ocean but struggle to talk about their feelings. While the romance is highlighted, the film is really about the complexity of the two men and trying to address masculinity in isolated rural Australia.

The film is held together by the performances of David Wenham and Garrett Hedlund who are both mesmerising. Wenham embodies the stoic older man who can combat the elements but fails to confront his grief and his vulnerability until it is too late, while Hedlund’s character has much less control and his feelings erupt in moments of rage and self-loathing.

Despite strong performances from Wenham and Hedlund, it is left to the grandeur of the Western Australian landscape to amplify the emotions, and this tourist promotion of our wonderful state seems to take precedence.

Lezly Herbert

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