Snowtown - Blu-ray Review

'punctuated by the type of music only necessary when attempting entry in to the 'soundtrack-as-headache' sub-genre'

The vastly overrated Snowtown flirts around with doing one or two things very differently before devolving into a tireless slog through chronology, punctuated by the type of music only necessary when attempting entry in to the 'soundtrack-as-headache' sub-genre.

In an involving, terrifying, first third, director Justin Kurzel provides glimpses into the life of abuse victim Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) and his brothers as charismatic John (Daniel Henshall) enters his life and provides father-figure like refuge. That John is actually John Bunting, Australia's worst serial killer, is never overtly explained in the early narrative, the audience instead left to watch what appears to be a quiet social drama, unfolding with growing tension and malice. Early on, Kurzel makes the brave decision to have us discover things at the same time as Jamie, a huge aid in the generation of the film's atmosphere which, at least initially, is not inconsiderable.

The problem with this approach though is that there is no way Kurzel can keep it up for two hours - a runtime that, by the by, surpasses that which the film needed by at least twenty minutes. As Jamie becomes more involved with John's darker side, so do the audience, the film becoming a tick box as Kurzel progresses through each of Bunting's horrible crimes. As we now know what's coming, the atmosphere can't keep up, the ambivalent imagery becomes tiresomely un-needed and the nauseating soundtrack keeps pumping regardless.

If you can accept being disappointed in the end - and giving over two hours of your time to that pursuit - then there's some storytelling and visual skill here to observe in the first third, not to mention Pittaway and Henshall's performances, which are impressive. But the final two thirds are a mess; unsatisfying, confusing and lacking in the prowess the film seemed to initially promise.

Look further...

'Visually Snowtown follows a colourless, grainy and depressing feel, not unlike Romper Stomper (another Australian gem), that adds to the powerful feel of the film.' - Split Reel, 8/10

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