With its subdued emotional tone and superbly subtle performances, Jindabyne
is the kind of film you have to be in the right mood for. If you get onto its low-key but ultimately powerful wavelength, you'll find much to admire in this Australian adaptation of Raymond Carver's short story "So Much Water So Close to Home." The same story (available in the Carver collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
) was previously adapted as a segment of Robert Altman's Short Cuts
, but here it's been given a decidedly indigenous spin, focusing on the emotional fallout that occurs when four men discover the half-naked body of a 19-year-old Aboriginal woman while fishing in a remote river near their home town of Jindabyne, on the border of outback country in New South Wales. Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) was the one who discovered the body on a sunny Friday afternoon, but he and his buddies didn't report their discovery until two days later, resulting in a local news scandal and deep resentments from the Aboriginal locals.
Worse yet, the incident dredges up a storm of emotions in Stewart's wife, Claire (Laura Linney), who's still recovering from a marital separation and post-partum depression following the birth of their young son. Simmering guilt, familial tensions, and strained friendships threaten to tear these residents of Jindabyne apart, and director Ray Lawrence (making only his third film since 1985's Bliss and 2001's underrated Lantana) does a remarkable job of exploring mysteries of human behavior that are slowly resolved as the drama unfolds. Jindabyne is not the kind of film one watches for light entertainment--its deliberate pacing and deep-rooted themes must be appreciated with careful attention--but it's a mature and richly observant study of people in crisis, whether they're aware of it or not, or even ready to admit it. --Jeff Shannon
Gabriel Byrne stars in this murder drama set in the Australian outback. Four friends on an annual fishing trip discover a girl's naked body. Rather than reporting the find straight away, they decide to wait until their trip is finished. On finally hearing the news, Claire Kane (Laura Linney), begins to question her relationship with her husband Stewart (Byrne), one of the four. As she tries to set things straight, Laura is caught in a moral dilemma between her marriage and the truth...