movie film review | chris tookey


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  Snowtown Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
7.78 /10
Daniel Henshall , Lucas Pittaway, Bob Adriaens
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Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Written by: Shaun Grant , based on a story by Grant and Justin Kurzel

Released: 2011
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: Australia
Length: 115

Certain to be a criticsí favourite because itís so depressing, Snowtown starts off in squalor and goes downhill from there.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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It is a relentlessly ugly tale, based on a regrettably true story, about Australian serial killer John Bunting (chillingly played by Daniel Henshall), who murdered eleven people in Adelaideís northern suburbs between 1992 and 1999.

The film concerns itself not so much with why he did it, but how he got away with doing it for so long, and even managed to recruit helpers. The merciless depiction of an alienated, uneducated, amoral underclass is, I fear, equally applicable to Britain as it is to Australia.

Director Justin Kurzelís background is in music videos, but he goes for a grimy realism that makes the average Ken Loach film look like Lady Windermereís Fan.

We see Bunting through the eyes of Jamie, a gormless sixteen year-old (played by first-time actor Lucas Pittaway, pictured, who looks like a young Heath Ledger without the acting ability). Heís a shy victim of a paedophile rapist and is passively drawn into Buntingís circle in much the same way as the fictitious teenager at the heart of last yearís film about Aussie lowlife, Animal Kingdom.

One difference is that Jamie never escapes, which makes the story even more depressing.

Whereas Animal Kingdom had black humour, a smart pace and a relatively straightforward narrative, Snowtown is more of a viewing ordeal.

The filmís biggest asset is Henshallís portrait of Bunting, a charismatic spokesman for Australiaís bigoted, anti-gay underclass.

Where it falls down is in not having the slightest interest in the victims. Some were paedophiles, and many were gay; but one was an obese woman, and another was a heroin addict.

Be warned also that the film features graphic torture and cruelty to animals.

It achieves everything it sets out to do, but Iím not sure who would enjoy it. Itís dour, heartless and one-paced, with so many puzzling gaps in the storytelling, that it isnít even slightly entertaining.

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