The endless cane fields and waterways around Ballina provide the beautiful – and sinister – backdrop to this suspenseful drama of murder, revenge, corruption, and friendship.
The setting was a big drawcard for cinematographer Kent Marcus (Don’t Love Thy Neighbour), who said the unique environment, where the coast meets farming, with “everything in between” would “look amazing on screen”. And it does.
It’s at once both isolated and crawling with snakes – and suspicious, hostile human beings. Just how dangerous some of them are is a question that comes up repeatedly throughout the film.
They are played by some of Australia’s best-established character actors, many of them veterans of crime drama: John McNeil (Underbelly, Blue Murder, Dirty Deeds) and Ron Kelly (Sea Patrol, Crooked Business) play two old coppers, one washed up, the other with nothing to lose.
Rising star Andrew Lowe’s Jeremy takes justice into his own hands after his sister is murdered and it quickly gets him into serious trouble with the local heavies and bent lawman Ken Stafford (McNeil).
A desperate Jeremy hides out on an island but things are just as complicated there, despite the sparse population.
A stunning but wild Francesca Bianchi seems likely to get him into deeper strife: he can run but he can’t hide when the forces of darkness sniff him out and head over on the ferry.
The region is home to former journalist Chris Blackburn, who wrote the screenplay, and asked his son Tim to direct it. Toronto-based Tim has successfully produced and directed several short films, including Monobrow, a finalist in Sydney Tropfest last year, and Wet Dreams, a finalist in the 2013 Tropfest New York.
It’s masterfully shot, with the contrast of dazzling sunlight bouncing off fields of green sugar cane and dark, squalid interiors reflecting
the moral dilemmas in play. And despite the grim narrative, there are moments of magic. – Digby Hildreth