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25 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

A dark, sinister view

6/10
Author: Bob Warn (realbobwarn) from Canberra, Australia
14 August 2006

This is a 'typical' Ray Lawrence film. Similar in its dark view of the world, to his earlier 'Lantana'. The same slow, deliberate, menacing pace, drawing out evil in every corner ("shades of David Lynch's Twin Peaks" here). Our good ol' boy Aussies (one a transplanted Irish), on a weekend trout fishing trip away from their wives, 'park' the corpse of a murdered woman they discover floating in their stream. They continue with their fishing, not reporting the find until leaving the site - for which they are intensively and unremittingly attacked by all and sundry on their return. The fact that the dead woman is an Australian Aboriginal person adds to the 'political' impact of their offense. Through all this, the real serial killer (who we see from the first scene) hovers menacingly nearby.

An interesting, if somewhat cynical, view of the highly charged inter-racial atmosphere in the Australian community: white guilt and 'political correctness'. Who are the real villains here? Our 'politically incorrect' (and morally vacuous) protagonists? Or the murderer? Accoring to Lawrence, the former, apparently.

Taught and tense throughout, the film lacks a real resolution, opting instead for a rather 'weak' ending through the redemption of the fishers.

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28 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

A sublime film

10/10
Author: Eric Rose from Sydney, Australia
24 July 2006

Ray Lawrence has done it again. This film has made me see the Australian landscape in a way that I haven't really since seeing Picnic at Hanging Rock. The feeling as the lads start on the fishing trip is somewhat Hitchcockian, since we know that we're going to see the body sometime soon - we just don't know when. There's a sense of oppression and expectation overlaid on the natural beauty, that holds you transfixed.

The film may be criticised since it doesn't try and resolve anything on a a material level. However, Lawrence is more interested in the internal lives of his characters - all of them. He also doesn't want to hand us the exposition on a platter. There's back-stories that are unfolded gradually, making us think about the characters as we are pointed to knowledge of what lead them to their current lives. I'm glad to see a film made for people to think about, rather than spoon-feeding us some clichés about how hard life can be for the protagonists.

Water plays a significant role throughout the movie, from the river where the fishermen find the body, to Lake Jindabyne, and the ghost stories about the drowned town. We're made to dive into the lives of the characters, finding deeper and deeper layers of motivation as we move from the warm surface of their lives to the colder and more fragile hidden depths. We see that the body in the river acts as a sort of stand-in for each character's transformation in a death and rebirth of the spirit.

This is another masterpiece work from a master film maker.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

One of the most annoying films ever.

1/10
Author: baoboa from United States
4 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before I watched this film I read a review here stating that this film could possibly be one of the best films ever!? ha ha Scene by scene the tension grows alright... from the annoying characters in this movie. From the little girl talking gibberish and trying to drown the little boy, to the killer just running about without any notice (and who was the guy at the beach talking to the little boy!?)..things just seem to happen and then go unanswered in this film. As I watched it seemed like the film was going in one direction, then just doesn't go anywhere, but into a new direction...and on and on...

The acting is great, but the writing is horrible. Each character, in each scene, says or does something so unbelievable, unrealistic and the reactions of the fellow cast/extras are simply strange. There are no resolutions to the problems developed throughout the film, making it confusing and ultimately a big waste of time.

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Disappointing

5/10
Author: gthiele from Australia
10 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was reassuring to see, here, a couple of negative reviews of Jindabyne: I was starting to think I was the only person in the world who found this film disappointing. Why disappointing? First and foremost, I had expected better from the makers of Lantana, which, while slightly overrated, was a fine film. I had expected that Ray Lawrence's next film would be better still, whereas in fact it is not in the same class. I realise that film reviews are largely subjective, and saying that it just didn't "work" for me is not saying a great deal. The best I can do is to explain why it didn't "work". I found the depiction of the film's central incident – the men's reaction to the finding of the body, and their subsequent actions (or inactions) – frankly unbelievable. To react with (it seemed to me) almost exaggerated horror, and then for the next couple of days to blithely ignore the fact that there was a dead body tethered to a log a short distance away, while they angled pleasantly in the same river, seemed something that people simply wouldn't do. I mean, if their initial reaction had been a lot more low-key, or if there had been some other aspect of their reaction which had made their subsequent heartless indifference to their obvious moral and legal duty more believable, then the whole scenario would have been more credible. For me, the film suffered a blow at that point from which it never recovered. The other main aspect of the film which I felt didn't work was the rather muddled attempt to establish a kind of spiritual undercurrent (if you'll excuse the pun) which ran through the film. It was, like, the drowned town, with its old folks (now, presumably, dead) sitting in their rocking chairs; likewise the old people interviewed in the video: all those dead people, down there, under the water; and the spirits of those dead people rising from their watery graves to come and threaten to drag people swimming in the lake down to the depths (how many times was that motif used!); and those same spirits humming through the wires to freak Billy out as he takes a leak down in the bush, and infecting the mind of the serial killer; and the unearthly, orphaned child with the weird name practising the black arts she learned (inherited?) from her dead (drowned?) mother; and the aboriginal smoke ceremony; and the invocation of St. Brigid; and and and… Mumbo-jumbo was the term that sprang to mind. Further criticism? I thought the serial killer was a quite gratuitous imposition on the film. In Lantana, the death which drove the action of the film was accidental. Why wasn't a similar device used here? Why a serial killer? Why that final scene?? The theme of the serial killer as a kind of malevolent force in nature was dealt with much better (and with a nicely gruesome humour) in Wolf Creek (another Australian film). What else? I found the characters on the whole a highly unsympathetic bunch, which for me made it difficult to get emotionally involved with their lives and issues. A better actor than Laura Linney might have carried off more successfully the attempt to portray the guilt associated with her realisation of her family's part in the tragedy, and also with her decision to kill her own (unborn) child, and her resulting clumsy attempts to "make things right". I think a good film could have been made using this subject matter, but only by going about it very differently.

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24 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Jindabyne is a brilliant and authentic Australian film.

10/10
Author: spacemoose-2 from Australia
22 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jindabyne is a brilliant Australian film.

At a simple level Jindabyne is the story of four men who make a bad moral choice, to delay the reporting of a deceased woman while they continue their fishing trip. The story follows the repercussions as their choices become known in the small country town.

Jindabyne is good on this level, but it's real strength is in the complexity of the story. It is not only this study on personal decisions, but on White Australia's relationship with the land and with it's indigenous inhabitants.

The men are unable to admit the abhorrence of their actions, and in this respect they can easily be recognised as a metaphor for the colonising forces that invaded Australia. They also reflect contemporary Australia's inability to reconcil it's past with it's future.

The wives, and in particular the lead wife, is that part of Australia which is frantically trying to seek amends with the actions of white Australia. Though she is continually rebuffed by the family of the Aboriginal girl. They seem to suspect that she is apologising not to them, but for herself, for her husband... attempting to gain some kind of moral absolution with apology. This is the problem Australia faces now with it's cultural battles for our nations history... what if white Australia does make an apology for Aboriginal genocide... what if the apology is accepted? Will life just go on? Will the white people believe this apology is all that is required of them? The other theme in the film is the anxiety of the Australian bush. The beautiful countryside is at once shown as peaceful, but more often as threatening. This recalls much of Australian/settlers psyche in relation to this unknown environment.... see movies such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, or The Proposition.

Please ignore the previous comment, the Aboriginal people do not ruin the white peoples lives at all. And this comment shows the expectations that an apology ought to be accepted, which then makes the apology conditional on acceptance - If you won't accept the apology, then I'm not going to apologise.

But this is not a movie about Aboriginal people so much as it is about settler-anxiety.

As a film it beautiful creates the tension and anxiety (that word again) one feels in the isolated Australian bush. wonderful Music, sound and cinematography create an air of the surreal and a lurking hidden danger.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Despite much interest and excellent acting, few real rewards

7/10
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
20 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite good acting and rich exploration of interrelated dysfunctional family situations -- the same kind of thing Australian director Ray Lawrence's 'Lantana' was notable for, so he's doing what he wants to do -- 'Jindabyne' doesn't work, and it leaves one feeling unsatisfied.

Lawrence has so much going on in this film, it's as if Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'Babel' had been concentrated into one little Australian town. And it's all interesting. It begins with the four men on an ill-fated fishing trip in the Raymond Carver story "So Much Water So Close to Home," on which this film is based. Making their camp up in the woods one of the men finds a dead woman floating in the river. It's a long way from the car, a very long way from home. The weather's lovely, the fish are big, and they're easy to catch, and these things lead the men to make a strategic and logistical and moral error. There's been a murder. It needs to be reported right away. You don't put a serious crime scene on hold till you finish your recreational activities. But that's what they choose to do. They tie the body to keep it from floating away, and do their fishing before they call the cops.

In the Carver story, this miscalculation fundamentally does only one important thing: it aggravates an already strained relationship in the case of the main couple, the story being told from the viewpoint of the wife. 'Jindabyne' isn't any different. Claire (Laura Linney), the wife, is still the main character. The same thing happens to the relationship. Only everything else is ratcheted up too, with all sorts of additional complications and damaged relationships added. The men's carelessness is the big headline in the local paper. That's in the short story too, only this time there's not just the name of Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) but a photograph (bigger than small town photos normally get to be) of the youngest, most uncomplicated member of the party, Billy (Simon Stone), holding up a fish with a goofy smile under a big banner headline: "MEN FISH OVER DEAD BODY." Unlike Stewart, who knew they had to lie and get their lies to mesh, Billy's been candid. He's also disadvantaged by being a carefree guy with a happy marriage and a little kid. The movie banishes him before it's over, leaving only the dour and troubled majority. Some of the others come to blows, and their marriages start to strain too. And in and out of the whole thing is woven some pretty portentous music.

Not only has the American story been transplanted to the vast spaces of Australia; it's been given a racial dimension. The dead woman is of aboriginal origin, and her people look on the men's delay as a "white hate crime" and vandalize the culprits' houses and businesses. The killer's another new dimension, if a vague one. Carver's killer was anonymous and just got caught the next day: this one's a dangling thread. We see him trap the victim on the road and dump her body later. But how he does it and why we never learn; he's just a figure who keeps reappearing all the way through. Another new complication: the main couple isn't either white or aboriginal Australian: they're the Irish Byrne (in full brogue here) and the American Linney (in full bustling American mode), and their problems go back to the earliest time of their marriage. And Claire's troubles have been expanded to include a pregnancy, and personal conflicts not only with Stewart but with her Irish mother-in-law, one of the few uncomplicated characters. She wants to help; but she gets brutal treatment from both spouses for her trouble. Their little boy, Dean (Carver's name again) is a bona-fide character, and he has a little girlfriend who's a bad influence -- though she does sort of trick him into learning how to swim, one of this downbeat film's few positive events.

The Irish Stewart is a weak, dishonest, TV-watching beer-guzzler who screws like a robot, and Claire, who so characterizes him, is an emasculating busybody do-gooder. True to form -- or true to stereotype though this may seem, both are well-meaning people. But there's a culture clash between them, and Claire's American desire to work everything out clashes with the white Australians' way of quietly moving on.

There's no faulting any of the actors, who bring everything wonderfully to life, however negative or depressing their characters' situations or mindsets. The fault is with a screenplay that doesn't just make Carver's story -- already recreated effectively, and economically, as one segment of Robert Altman's 'Short Cuts' -- into something richer and more complex, but into something so complicated it becomes difficult to care about what happens because there is nothing to focus on. Despite an awkwardly "healing" aboriginal memorial service and spirit-expulsion that the fishing party men and their families attend (rather reluctantly except for Claire, who's been campaigning to raise money for it and insists they must go to) -- and despite all the crap hitting various fans -- nothing really does happen. Notably the Carver story, for all its tight-lipped ambiguity, allows for a simple final reconciliation: quick sex.

An aspect of the over-plotting of 'Jindabyne' is that despite characters who come alive, the central ones all appear to be just flailing hopelessly about. The film so takes its time getting down to business with the fishing trip that the discovery of the body loses effect (must we see each man catch his fish?), and it's not till half way through running time that the men return and are confronted with their error. Then things come to life -- for a while. But as the film begins to wander from subplot to subplot, that energy dissipates again. An honorable failure, perhaps, but nonetheless a pretty complete one, 'Jindabyne' may not be pure punishment, but it's lacking in real rewards.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Overview of my thoughts

10/10
Author: jbeardsl from Australia
23 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. What a great film. I've just gone to see this with my English Class, and after seeing this I can only recommend that others make the effort as well.

The story follows a group of men who venture deep into the New South Wales bush to go fishing. While they are away, they discover the body of a young aboriginal woman. The reporting of the body is delayed by several days, causing severe upset in the small local town of Jindabyne.

I can associate with the emotions of these four fellows; I live in Tasmania and go trout fishing at every spare opportunity. However, I found it disturbing that an aspect of the larrikin attitude continued after the discovery of the body, and that they became detached and desensitized to the fact this woman had a family; something I believe Ray Lawrence wanted us to feel.

As the viewers, we can see that the four men are not racist, and it was simply poor judgment that left them in their situation. It is also easy to understand why they could be mistaken as racist. What made matters worse for me was the fact that they didn't acknowledge their mistakes after they returned to the township... bad move.

Congrats to Lawrence for having the guts to stand up and highlight an issue that is usually left untouched... reconciliation. Claire and Stewart both had interesting roles, Claire being the American stereotype and trying to fix things up, but not realizing she was doing more harm than good. Very clever suggestion there...

As spacemoose mentioned, Ray Lawrence raises a valid point... if White Australia does say 'Sorry' to the Aboriginal community, what happens then? Do we just move on... I highly doubt it. There is always going to be tensions between these two races, as the past is not an issue we can push to one side and forget about...

I spent several days reflecting on the last scene of the film. I was expecting justice, and the murderer to be caught... I was extremely disappointed when this didn't happen, but then it hit me.... the point of the film is that the is no justice. Using the murderer to convey his message, Lawrence is suggesting that White Australias history is completely unjust... a fair and valid point.

Last of all... the wasp. ??? I thought at first. I believe this is yet another metaphor for White Australia, and our efforts to 'push away' the problem of Indigenous relations like an annoying buzzing insect, an issue that needs addressing.

I suggest all Australians should make the effort to see this film. It may seem a little slow at first, but it has many hidden messages that everyone needs to hear.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Good acting, pointless story ...

4/10
Author: vram22 from United States
21 August 2008

With no fault to the actors (they all put on great performances), the overall story was not very well executed. The movie opens with a great zinger: a crazy old guy forces a young Aborigine girl's car off the road. But then, we're forced to endure 40 minutes of character development with an entirely new group of characters ... and we don't know why until the 40 minutes are up. It turns out that they are the ones who eventually discover the girl's body ... and the story progresses from there.

While the story does pick up at that point, it really goes nowhere. After 2 hours, I asked myself: was there a point to this, or was it just to see the characters struggle with accusations of racism and stupidity of how they handled the discovery? The story was ultimately unsatisfying and felt unfinished. While it is well acted, there's not a strong enough backbone in the film to warrant recommending it.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

'Exhibit A' on scapegoating

Author: Wuchak from Ohio/PA border
15 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Jindabyne" (pronounced JIN-da-bine) is a 2006 film about a crisis in an Australian town. Four guys on a fishing trip in the wilderness discover a body of a young woman in a creek, a woman who's part aboriginal; they decide to finish their activities before reporting the body 2 days later. When the press gets ahold of the story the men are criticized for their irresponsibility; their actions are also interpreted as racist by the local native population. Claire (Laura Linney), the wife of one of the men, Stewart (Gabriel Byrne), can't believe they didn't immediately report the body and becomes suspicious of the incident. Meanwhile the killer is on the loose.

"Jindabyne" combines elements of "Deliverance" (1972) and "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (1975). The similarities with the former are obvious, while it shares the latter's haunting ambiance and overall mysteriousness of the Australian wilderness (albeit Eastern Australia rather than Western).

While "Jindabyne" isn't the most captivating piece of celluloid and leaves some aspects unresolved, it did hold my attention and the story provokes numerous insights and questions. For instance, the killer is revealed in the opening shot. This isn't someone frothing at the mouth with evil, but rather an ordinary-looking electrician which shows that there are ordinary-looking people out there who have no qualms about snuffing out a person's life for their own selfish purposes, just as there are people who would steal, molest or falsely testify without a second thought. We shouldn't assume everyone's like us. There are evil people out there who prey on others. If the aboriginal girl had realized this she wouldn't have allowed herself to fall into the killer's grasp.

The story gives evidence that the men were fishoholics excited about their adventure and simply weren't prepared to handle the burden and responsibility of a mysterious dead body. Hence, they temporarily blocked out the corpse and continued their endeavors. Later, in the big fight scene with Claire, Stewart admits with all the rage that only guilt can cook up, that it did FEEL GOOD to be fishing for awhile, free from the shackles of his every-day mundane existence in "civilization." But how could it? Maybe because many men have the ability to focus on the moment and, basically, forget, for a while, the circumstances surrounding them.

This, I think, director Ray Lawrence portrays effectively in the fishing scene. The scene is a soothing interlude between moments of tension; it's like momentary heaven on earth. And then they remembered the dead body.

Many say the movie is about making a stupid decision and the requisite consequences, as well as repentance, forgiveness and compassion. True, but the movie is also about the differences between the way man and woman view and deal with reality. I doubt most women would be able to ignore the presence of a corpse enough to enjoy a fishing holiday, which explains why Claire becomes appalled at the incident. No wonder she looks at her husband as if she doesn't know him; their marriage was already strained and this rips it apart (to say nothing of the weirdo mother-in-law -- she'd give anyone the heebie-jeebies!).

Another scene that depicts this difference is when Stewart comes home from the fishing trip in the middle of the night. Feeling guilty and confused, he needs to make love to Claire, to regain a bit of his humanity. Talking about it is not an option, there are simply no words. It's evidently a way for Stewart to "skip" the whole event, to pretend he's not concerned by it.

Yet, I think the film is about scapegoating more than anything. A young girl is dead and it's next to impossible to discern who did it, so the community's collective pain is hurled at the four who trivialized her death in order to preserve their holiday. Also, the film obviously compares the men's cavalier disregard with the heartless indifference of the killer himself. Which isn't to say they're as bad as the murderer, not at all, but they do share one of the traits that enables him to do what he does.

Theories on the implications of the bee sting: (1) It represents the girl taking some small revenge now that she was one with nature. (2) It showed nature beginning to assert its dominance over this man who professes a psychological link with artificial power, and the way he uses nature to abet his crimes (i.e. hiding in the rocks and disposing of his victims in the stream). (3) It simply shows that his cycle of predation and murder is an eroding one, in that the longer he keeps doing it the more things will happen that are beyond his control, and will eventually lead to his discovery. (4) It signifies how a murderer can kill a person with no remorse or anything, just like killing an insect. And (5) It shows how the killer's still alive since he can feel and react to the bee whereas the girl's dead and gone as her body is unable to feel or react to the insects transgressing her corpse (as depicted in an earlier scene).

The only criticism I can voice concerns the corpse of the girl; her body almost looks sexy, which is never the case in real life and even more so in this case since the body's been dead for awhile and lying in a creek under the hot sun. My wife works at a burial park and sees bodies all the time, young and old. Corpses are gross and smelly. Death is never sexy.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

I can't help it, I really dislike this film

6/10
Author: bruce-moreorless from Australia
10 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After thinking about Jindabyne for several days (and probably the best thing about the film is that it does merit some thought) I'm still not quite sure why I dislike it so much.

It's not that I don't appreciate Ray Lawrence's previous work. 'Bliss' was a well-made interpretation of the book, though both the film and the book have dated rather badly. 'Lantana' was a great film that helped to revive confidence in the Australian film industry. But now we have 'Jindabyne'.

In a way 'Jindabyne' is a logical progression of the themes explored in Lawrence's earlier work - the angst and dislocation of the well-educated middle class; for although 'Jindabyne' is concerned with mainly "working class" characters it's underlying themes are middle class themes, and not only are they middle class themes they are the themes of the bourgeois middle class.

This is perhaps the source of the disconnect that flawed the film for me; a disconnect which, ironically, is one of the film's major themes. No one in the film seems to sit well in the landscape, not even the Aborigines. None of the actors seem to sit well in their characters. The progression of the script does not sit well with the promise of the introductory scenes. I just didn't like where the film went, or more precisely the mish-mashed route that it took.

None of the characters in the film were particularly sympathetic, some of the acting was a little forced, the theme of the effect of the past on present circumstances and the need for reconciliation was clichéd and handled in a wishy-washy, hand-wringing manner. Many aspects of the plot development were not convincing. The film finished without any real resolution of the interpersonal and interracial themes it had raised. Even the crime at the centre of the film was not resolved. In fact the film literally tip-toed around the edges of the real crime, raising bourgeois chimeras that prevented me from connecting with it in any meaningful way.

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