WARWICK Thornton doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of racism and violence in his new film Sweet Country.
Set in the outback of Alice Springs in 1929 we meet Harry March (Ewen Leslie), a shell-shocked World War I veteran.
Having taken over a new station he visits his neighbours and fellow station owners Fred Smith (Sam Neill) and Mick Kennedy (Thomas M. Wright).
Fred Smith is a Christian who thinks of his Aboriginal workers as his equals.
Harry asks for some help with some of the labour on his new station and Fred loans him Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris) who along with his wife Lizzie (Natassia Gorey-Furber) and niece go to Harry’s property.
The difference between how Fred and Harry treat the Indigenous workers is stark and Thornton has used a technique of flashback in a very powerful way, giving the audience more context and backstory to the characters, creating a powerful tension throughout the film.
Inspired by true events, Thornton has crafted this gripping film with shots of the Australian outback, the use of silence and how he isn’t afraid to shy away from the violence and truth of how Aboriginal people have been treated.
The most powerful and memorable scene for me was when Sam Neill said, “What chance has this country got?”
Almost 80 years after this film is set we are still dealing with the issues that Warwick Thornton portrays.
In cinemas 25 January.
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