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Ort Flack is 12 years old and lives with his mother and his sister Tegwyn in the Australian outback. The three of them also have to take care of their old grandma and their paralyzed father. It is not easy for one mother to take care of everybody. But one day a mysterious stranger, Henry, comes to their desolate house to help them... Written by
Tim Winton's works are generally quite similar. Family problems lead to some sort of breakdown, and there is some violence as a result. I may be oversimplifying, but that is the overriding impression I get from everything I've read from him. This book/movie fits into that generalisation perfectly. The father of two children is in a car accident and ends up in a coma. His son is traumatised, his daughter gives in to anger and his wife gives up on him.
Then a mysterious stranger turns up, and helps them deal with what has happened. Why? Well, he is seemingly quite religious. A little questionable and contrived, but I've seen worse. Then he falls for the young daughter - at most half his age. They ride off into the sunset.
Seems like a typical Winton sad ending. However [and if you don't want to see spoilers, stop reading now], the man picks this time to suddenly become conscious as the music swells. Now, look, I generally like a happy ending, but I get the distinct feeling that I have just watched a film for about 100 minutes for absolutely nothing. The question must be asked - why? Why have the man wake up all of a sudden, for no particular reason. And what exactly have we been watching for? I have no answer.
The acting was surprisingly good for an Australian cast - particularly since they are all 'no name' actors. Indeed, some people I watched the movie with thought that the mysterious man was played by Kevin Costner. Alas, he wasn't, but it wouldn't have made much difference.
In the end, I got nothing out of this. The religious symbolism and comments were pointless, and there really wasn't anything notable. Actually, there was one scene where the [all male] class came alive - when the young girl took off her top. It's all well and good for a movie like Showgirls or Basic Instinct to be remembered for some nudity, but a Tim Winton religious drama story?
I was prepared to chalk this up a an average movie - not great, but not awful, either. But that ridiculous, contrived, cliched ending ensures that this one joins Star Wars on the bottom of my movie list.
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