An Indonesian fishing boat abandons a group of Iraqi and Cambodian men on a remote part of the Western Australian coast. Told there is a bus over the dunes, the men are abandoned to a desert the size of Poland. While most are quickly rounded up, three men with little in common but their history of misfortune elude capture and begin an epic but confused journey drawn on by their hopes amplified by the empty desert. Pursued by an army reservist unit more concerned with playing ball sports and music, our three protagonists wander deeper into trouble, searching desperately among the harsh beauty of the Pilbara for evidence of a western, liberal democracy. Or the promised bus. Written by
This film is without comparison. It stands outside genres because it is without formula. It demands that each viewer approaches it with our own native intelligence turned on to Go mode - as if we too are in the desert without a compass. We are compelled to sense out the tone, intention and stand point of the film with few clues other than a kind of "existential compassion". Curiously, and perhaps with a lazy dingo's ear to what the rest of the audience is doing, we find our ways with it effortlessly and quickly. We learn that the story speaks for itself through the uncompromising performances of the cast, the landscape and the narrative ("whose" performance we are reminded of in the visual use of sub titles). Added to this is a heart wrenching quality of ephemeral beauty - the quality of light, the sound track which is at times indistinguishable from the landscape, the loving clip on the ear, the joy of fresh water. It is about human rights to exist - but as measured across disinterested (is it?) geography rather than indignant legislation. That is, the measure of existence is three water bottles plus whatever happens to arrive to save the day, popping as it were, out of nowhere, and with no promises. We learn the power of endurance, cooperation, betrayal, foolishness and the synergy of happen chance. Tiny human attributes in a vast meaningless cosmology. This film has the hallmark of great artistic work: an original expression of a love of life and humanity.
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