Jindabyne
Nothing creepy to see here …

Theatrical Release Date: 07/20/2006 (Australia), 05/18/2007 (USA)
Director: Ray Lawrence
Cast: Laura Linney, Gabriel Byrne, Deborra-Lee Furness, Sean Rees-Wemyss, Eva Lazzaro, Stelios Yiakmis, Simon Stone, John Howard, Chris Haywood

Named for the town the film is set in, “Jindabyne” explores not only the morals of four friends, a strained marriage and parents still grieving over a lost daughter, it also is a reminder of the racial tensions in Australia between whites and Aboriginals.

That’s a tall order, tackling all of those subjects. Normally, I’d say the filmmakers were taking too big a gamble.

However, director Ray Lawrence and the impressive cast are up to the task.

The premise of the story is simple. An Aboriginal girl is murdered. A group of fishing buddies discovers her body but decide to wait until after the trip to inform the authorities. The town finds it immoral and borderline criminal while the aboriginal population see it as further proof of the racism whites still harbor.

All the while, each of the fishermen and their families are undergoing different stressors and the commotion raised by their actions only exacerbates each situation.

I’ve read that some of the fundamental details of the Raymond Carver short story this film is based on (“So Much Water So Close to Home”) were changed dramatically.

I can see why this would be distressing, and after reading what the changes are, I’m inclined to agree that I would have preferred the filmmakers stick to the story.

Still, I see that they wanted the focus of the film to be slightly different and I can understand it.

While the inter-family issues and struggles are all done well enough, what I found much more interesting is the racial issue.

Not too long ago, Aborigines were second-class citizens at best. Even now, there is resentment and prejudice amongst some of the Australian population, much like here in America between the white and black segments of society.

Whereas a film like “Crash (2005)” is unrealistic in its portrayal of racism, “Jindabyne” doesn’t make everyone out to be black and white. There are shades of gray.

Now, I did have some issues with pacing but I suppose that’s difficult to be controlled considering the great number of issues being dealt with in the film.

The acting is good all around and I’m always happy to see gorgeous Australian scenery. Next time I get down under, I’m going to have make a special trip out to Jindabyne since it is featured not only here but also in “Somersault“.

I was debating what rating to dole out to this film and in the end, I’m going to give “Jindabyne” a 3 out of 5. I think there were some unresolved plot points and maybe dropping one of the storylines would have allowed for better resolution and focus.

Still, I can see why this was nominated for a number of Australian Film Institute awards and will be eager to watch it again on DVD to see if I missed anything.