"Buckley’s Chance" (PG) *

THIS “child-lost-in-the-bush” movie, meaning that it’s supposed to be quintessentially Australian, is written by director Tim Brown, who also has a producer’s credit as well as, in conjunction with Willem Wennekers, a credit for writing it. 

For weather-connected reasons, I sat down to watch it about 20 minutes in. As it flowed across the screen, what I’d missed seemed to be less and less important. Brown has to be held responsible for most of the film’s mistakes. But let’s give credit where credit is due before turning to its faults, too numerous to list. 

Good Thing number one is the casting of English actor Bill Nighy as the lost boy’s grandfather.

Good Thing number two is the screenplay’s attempt to explain its title with two lines of dialogue that don’t mesh with the relevant facts despite being capable of compression to a minute or less of screen time – if you really want to know, they’re readily available on the internet.

Good Thing number three is outback landscape shots that speak for themselves – despite many locations that look at the action from closer up, liberally sprinkled with glaring continuity errors shrieking that those working behind the camera didn’t know or, worse, knew but didn’t care about them.

Good Thing number four is the supporting cast who seemed generally to be aware of the film’s inherent shortcomings but soldiered on.

The plot is straightforward enough to the point of over-simplification. Milan Burch plays Ridley the lost boy. The IMDb doesn’t give the name of the dog that plays the dingo that Ridley rescues from a tangled fence and becomes his faithful companion. Available information tells me that domesticating adult dingoes takes longer than the film allows, if at all. 

In the credibility stakes, any “lost-in-the-bush” movie has to compete with Nic Roeg’s masterpiece “Walkabout”. “Buckley’s Chance” has less than Buckley’s chance of doing that.

At all cinemas


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Ian Meikle, editor