Movie review / ‘Dirt Music’ (M)

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Garrett Hedlund as Lu and Kelly Macdonald as Georgie in “Dirt Music”.

“Dirt Music” (M) ***

TIM Winton wrote a novel, Jack Thorne turned it into a screenplay and Gregor Jordan turned its paper characters into moving, talking images.

And the filmed result looks beautiful, scary and passionate. So what’s it about?

Georgie (Kelly Macdonald – no relation) has alcohol problems. And sexual problems – if resolving emotional issues by bonking more than one partner is a problem.  

The fortunate chaps are Jim (David Wenham), the big man in the local rock lobster fishery and Lu (Garrett Hedlund) who fishes unlicensed under cover of darkness.  Georgie’s going to have to make a choice.

“Dirt Music” sprinkles a dust of modern music over the film’s triangular romance to divert the tensions arising when Jim learns of Georgie’s fondness for Lu.  

The tension escalates when Lu, his small boat immobilised probably by sabotage by we-all-know-who, decides to swim ashore, treads on a sharp object, and has to tough it out alone among coastal rocks not suitable for sustaining human life. 

I’d like to heap praise on “Dirt Music” for its dramatic conflict, for its environmental beauty and for its cast of minor characters played by notable Aussie actors. But as the tensions developed, as Georgie’s search for Lu whom we know, but she doesn’t, is on the brink of dying from a very sore foot, the drama began to lose credibility. 

The filmmakers should have identified and fixed that defect before asking actors to portray the story’s tensions. The film’s dramatic build-up toward denouement is top stuff, unhurried, pointing in a tense direction. Resolution of it is pabulum, unsupported by what we’ve been led to expect.

At Dendy, Limelight and Hoyts

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"Dirt Music" (M) ***
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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