Sixteen-year-old Jamie lives with his mother, Elizabeth, and two younger brothers, Alex and Nicholas, in a housing trust home in Adelaide's northern suburbs. Their home is but one of many sun-starved houses crammed together to cater for a disenfranchised society. Jamie longs for an escape from the violence and hopelessness that surrounds him and his salvation arrives in the form of John, a charismatic man who unexpectedly comes to his aid. As John spends more and more time with Jamie's family, Elizabeth and her boys begin to experience a stability and sense of family that they have never known. John moves from the role of Jamie's protector to that of a mentor, indoctrinating Jamie into his world, a world brimming with bigotry, righteousness and malice. Like a son mimicking his father, Jamie soon begins to take on some of John's traits and beliefs as he spends more and more time with him and his select group of friends. The protection and guidance that John presents to Jamie is ... Written by
The press junket and first wave of critical notices built Snowtown up as a throat ripper that will cause you nightmares. That didn't do it any favours as per expectation levels for the horror enthusiast. However, this is a superb piece of film making, a real gritty and grainy deconstruction of the human condition gone sour. As with all films of this type that are based on real life incidents, it pays to read up on the facts if you be so inclined.
Debut director Justin Kurzel doesn't shirk from the horrors of the case, but skillfully he doesn't bang everyone over the head with shock tactics to grab the attention. It's a relentlessly bleak picture, there's a continuous build of impending dread, of human devastation wrung out by a master manipulator (Daniel Henshall as John Bunting superb), the depressing story told through the eyes of the simple and confused Jamie Vlassakis (Lucas Pittaway).
Not to be watched if one is looking to be cheered up! But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be sought out as essential cinema. It's a strong and potent film, worthy of inspection by adults who understand that not all film is about entertainment. 8.5/10
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