Jindabyne (review)

With its cold brilliance and delicate aloofness, this is a movie you can hold aloft to recognize and examine its many intellectual facets in hard light, but it will never make you feel anything. Perhaps that’s the effect Australian director Raw Lawrence (Lantana) was aiming for with this tale of misunderstood and even unseen emotion hovering below a cultural divide so steep as to almost be unfathomable. Irish-immigrant-Down Under Stewart (Gabriel Byrne: Assault on Precinct 13) and his buddies go fishing one weekend in a remote mountain park, where they find, in the river, the dead body of an Aboriginal woman. Which they fish over for a day and a night before returning to civilization to report the horrible discovery. The Aboriginal community is devastated by what they see as an act of pure racism; Stewart’s wife, Claire (Laura Linney: Breach), is devastated by what she sees as pure heartlessness on the part of her husband. To its credit, the film — adapted from a story by Raymond Carver — demonizes no one, and goes quite a long way toward illuminating the different but valid ways men and women tend to react to startling situations. But in this hard landscape scarred by the hand of humanity — powerlines cutting across mountains, blue horizons slashed by contrails — the emotional landscape feels like nothing but scars, too.

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