Jindabyne (DVD)

Ray Lawrence’s follow-up to his excellent Lantana had a lot of expectation riding on its shoulders. Happily, it’s every bit as good as you’d hope. Like Lantana, Jindabyne also straddles genres to bring a new perspective to the human condition. Once again, the focus is on relationships. Once again though, that would be too easy so, once again, Lawrence uses death as the catalyst. A body of a young woman is abandoned in a river by her murderer and later discovered in a fishing pool by Stewart (Byrne). He and three friends are in the Snowy Mountains on their annual fishing weekend. It’s too late to trek back to report the body so they secure it and retire in subdued fashion. The following morning... well, it’s a long way back, there’s nothing they can do, they’ll be leaving the following day anyway... would it really be such a problem to just report the find when they head home?

It’s the different reactions, the questions of loyalty, the small snapshots of past activities and the reality of the stilted dialogue and stuttering emotions that sets Jindabyne far above the crowd. This is a film of poignant beauty and tortured hearts and it’s exquisite. It’s also nigh unbearable, of course, like someone has dropped a camera into a real situation. However, due to the quality of the performances, you’ll be unable to look away. If that sounds bleak, well, yes, it is although there is humour here, and it’s borne out of real situations. However, like the deliberately flooded old town of Jindabyne, the most interesting things are what lie below the surface and Lawrence is an absolute master at this sort of thing. He peels away the layers to shed light on his characters but it never feels like an obvious device or heavy-handed cod psychology. It just feels real. Even a further brush with the murderer — as serial killer’s neighbours always say, he really doesn’t look the type — is mundane and matter-of-fact, and probably all the more alarming for it. The final scene possibly takes one step too far and flirts with a sense of sentimentality that jars a little with what’s gone before but it’s the only such moment in an otherwise stunning film. Byrne and, particularly, Linney are magnificent as well, which alone should be reason enough to see Jindabyne. As it happens, it’s one of two reasons to see Jindabyne, the other being that it’s just a bloody brilliant film.

EXTRAS ** Minimal. The usual deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer and a pretty good "making of" documentary.• COMPETITION Thanks to Revolver Entertainment we have 2 special prize packs to give away. See our Competition page for details

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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