Mystery Road

Directed by Ivan Sen
Starring Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson and Ryan Kwanten
In UK cinemas August 29th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Imagine an Australian filmic version of True Detective with social and political commentary at its core rather than merely a study of characters.  Mystery Road is a gritty and harrowing modern-day Western that examines life on the fringe of society.

Aboriginal detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) returns to his hometown to solve the murder of an aboriginal teenage girl who was found brutally murdered.  The film focuses more on the detectives than the crime as Jay finds himself entangled in a web of lies and deceit.  He is alienated by the white-dominated police force and is an outsider in his own indigenous community.  The main theme of this film is isolation as Jay is a man who stands alone and he alone is searching for justice.

The pace of Mystery Road is slow, and the feel is realistic.  The scenery of the Australian outback is beautifully shot and the performances toned down.  The supporting cast is comprised of some of Australia’s finest including the always wonderful Hugo Weaving and Ryan Kwanten of True Blood fame.

While a murder mystery is the central plot, the film is truly a film about Aboriginal life in rural Australia.  The story is not complex and the pace not fast, but there is something rather gripping about this dark and isolating drama.

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