This is a brave well done debut film from a promising NZ director and deserves to be supported. Filmed in our personal locale, I have a built in soft spot for it.
It is an iceberg of a film – what appears above the surface barely scratches at the behemoth of emotion lurking within.
Crisply refocused through Feneley’s commitment to stark silences and bold cinematic spaces into a kind of hard-edged New Zealand poetry.
Jack, a taciturn young man on parole for grievous bodily harm, holes up in a cabin somewhere in Central Otago. It’s not clear whether he’s trying to forget the past or reconcile with it, although his hesitancy with locals suggests he’s much closer to the scene of the crime than he’d care to admit. Locked away in a prison of his own making, Jack one evening encounters Grace, very far from home and seeking refuge. Grace’s own private struggles linger beneath her attraction to Jack. These lonely, enigmatic strangers drift into a relationship that promises to either heal or hurt.
The film has minimal dialogue. In fact there isn’t even background music – and that is a clever step. Instead of the music setting the mood or indirectly telling you how to feel, you are left alone to wander with the protagonists through the rawness of their life.
Not a heap of smiles in the film, but it is not overly depressing either. It is about loss and alone-ness. During the film the leads hide their own worlds of history and emotion from each other, from outsiders and even from themselves. In the end both of the characters take a big step in their development. As a viewer it may seem small, but for them it is a giant leap back into life.
The film made history by becoming the first New Zealand feature film selected for the world’s second oldest film festival in Moscow.
Won best actor Moscow Film Festival. It has also won best cinematographer at the Georgian Film Festival.
NZ 2018, 104 min, rated M (adult themes)
Directed by Dustin Feneley
Starring Kieran Charnock & Arta Dobroshi