May 21st, 2021
MOVIE: THE DRY
STARRING: ERIC BANA, GENEVIEVE O’REILLY, KEIR O’DONNELL, BEBE BETTENCOURT
DIRECTED BY: ROBERT CONNOLLY
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
We see a khaki colored, drought ridden feld, a quiet hush over a one stop town, The Dry is not bursting with the type of vibrancy some movies can provide, yet it’s a relentless mystery. It’s about the past and the present merging at one place and how a small town copes with the secrets that everyone is hiding. Director Robert Connolly has molded a fascinating procedural film and he straps his vehicle to Eric Bana and has him carry it the entire way. The Dry is straightforward and thoroughly engaging, where people have been murdered, and a cop that moved on from his life, must now go back home to solve the crime. The Dry builds to a simmer and bursts like a flame in the night sky.
The entire show belongs to Eric Bana, playing Melbourne detective Aaron Falk, he moved on from his small town, but now must return, after the murder-suicide of his old friend Luke (Sam Corlett), his wife, and their son. It’s a horrific scene, where the people gather at the funeral, and the only noises we hear are the cries of all that attend. With Aaron returning, so does the past that he left behind, and that includes the mysterious death of his old teenage friend Ellie (Bebe Bettencourt). At the time, Luke, Aaron, Ellie, and Gretchen (Genevieve O’Reilly) were potential couples with one another, Aaron trying to court Ellie, but when she was found dead, the first suspects became Luke and Aaron. Their names were never truly cleared, as the town made up their own minds, and it’s what sent Aaron and his father away. But now there’s still a bit of mystery surrounding Luke’s death, and while local officer Raco (Keir O’Donnell) wants to keep his town quiet, the two officers work together to figure out exactly what happened. The past will be dug up, revealing that there have been secrets kept by everyone in this little town.
When praising The Dry it begins with the screenplay by Harry Cripps and Connolly, adapted from the novel by Jane Harper. The rotation of the various characters in town keeps the narrative as a guessing game. At the beginning, nobody is a suspect, and slowly with a drip drip of details, everyone becomes a potential threat. You don’t know if local officer Raco is a good man, but slowly he develops a partnership with Falk. Outside of him, there’s not many people that want Falk around, snooping into the business of a town that was glad to see him go. The connection he has with Gretchen still wavers between two people that experienced similar traumas, while also becoming closer through sheer loneliness. The characters in this narrative are cracked, broken, and beaten down, while the many secrets fester inside, tearing them apart.
What might be a negative to some is the structure of storytelling, which involves bouncing back and forth between the past and present times, but it’s the direction from Connolly that stays true. The way it unfolds is a reminder of other films such as Fargo, A Simple Plan, or Witness, all films that unravel like a ball of yarn, rolling down hill. It’s all under the umbrella of Bana’s fantastic performance. The Munich actor hasn’t had as meaty a role in some time, playing a man that has lived with a tortured past, the constant judgement of others, and his own personal guilt. It’s a reminder that when given the chance, Bana is still a spectacular leading man.
I’m a big fan when a movie works as well as The Dry does. It sneaks up on you. There’s a realness, a human aspect to this story that may roll along slowly, but the intrigue never wavers. It’s a cold mystery that becomes a hot poker. The setting is a dusty Australian outback, forcing the true reality of life into characters that resemble a new-age noir. It’s ultimately both an engaging drama and a great vehicle for Eric Bana to show his excellent versatility. The Dry is just strong cinema that reveals very little cracks in the foundation.
THE DRY IS IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND THIS FRIDAY MAY 21ST
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady