Eric Bana quenches your thirst as a detective solving two murder cases in the past and present.
As an Australian import, “The Dry” is a crime drama that quenches your thirst when its lead Eric Bana struggles to overcome the convictions of his character’s past and present. Based on Jane Harper’s novel, the movie ha the nerve to tackle on two cases, one of which happened in the present, and the other is something the main protagonist can’t seem to let go, and we wouldn’t blame him.
We might get all the details or might see one element differently (we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it), but we’re able to see the decisions and twists and turns with a certain kind of ease. And unlike Christoph Waltz’s character in “Georgetown,” we want to believe the accused.
As the film begins, Federal Agent Aaron Falk (Bana) returns to his drought-stricken hometown to attend the funeral of his old mate Luke (Martin Dingle-Wall), who is accused of murdering his family before taking his own life. The deceased’s parents (Bruce Spence and Julia Blake) believe he’s innocent, and asks Aaron to investigate. So, he receives some help from a local sergeant named Greg Raco (Keir O’Donnell) and digs up as much details as he can. But there’s more to the movie than meets the eye, because he has been gone from his hometown for many years, after being accused by some people of drowning his love interest Ellie (BeBe Bettencourt) when they were teenagers. To coin a phrase: the past is back to haunt him.
The one thing I’m not convinced of is that the story is said to take place 20 years apart between Aaron’s teenage years with Luke and Ellie, and the death of Luke and his tribe. The actor is 52-years-old, and he doesn’t look like he’s in his late 30s. He looks more like his 40s, and yet the movie claims that his character has been gone for that period of time. It would have made more sense if they said he was gone for 30 years.
During his stay, he reunites with an old friend of his, named Gretchen (Genevieve O’Reilly), who is now a single mother, and doesn’t want to talk about Ellie’s death. Ellie’s father (William Zappa) is the one who accused Aaron of killing his girl, which is why there is some tension with some folks. And other characters include the local principal (John Polson), who is the boss of Luke’s dead wife, and Ellie’s brother (Matt Nable), who may or may not wanted to buy his family’s farm.
Director Robert Connolly sets “The Dry” with a moody dustbowl-like tone, after all, the story does take place during a drought. Even if you want to see some water and green plants, the dry areas are beautifully photographed by cinematographer Stefan Duscio, and the actors are placed in the correct areas. The best in particular take place in the end, so I don’t want to spoil anything for you. If you’ve heard of this film, and take my advice and see it, then let’s have a discussion about it when the time is right.
Despite this time difference I’m concerned about, I really think Bana does a nice job portraying a detective trying to make sense of the deaths in his past and present. He handles the negativity within his character’s hometown with patience and consistency. He doesn’t succumb to those outcast cliches; he thrives on them, and that’s what makes his character fresh. And the supporting work from O’Reilly, O’Donnell, Nable, and Polson are all equally excellent with their own various aspects.
It would be formulaic to say that when a movie-goer goes to a mystery movie, they want to see the good guys being innocent. Every once in awhile, we have to get the innocent until proven guilty twist, and that’s riveting when it comes. But again, unlike Christoph Waltz’s otherwise likable character in “Georgetown,” we want to believe Bana’s character, and it’s entertaining to see the results. And as a smart mystery film, I cannot say anymore, because I recommend that you find out what happens in “The Dry,” that is if you’ve haven’t read the book or if you have heard about this movie.
In Select Theaters and On Demand This Friday