peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2013 10 22 TheTurning

The Turning

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With The Ritz showing uniform dreck on this cheap Tuesday, I was tempted to give my Palace Cinemas membership a workout and go see this adaptation of Tim Winton's collection of shorts The Turning, which I read a long time back. Apparently he has a new book out now that I have yet to get to.

This presentation, like the book, is a bunch of shorts, but I couldn't connect any of the shorts in one with those in the other, perhaps revealing that while I enjoy Winton's work it doesn't stick with me; the form, however, does. I can't remember all of the movie either, as it was three hours with an intermission (from 8.15pm to about 11.40). I hadn't really noticed the fantastic classic neon sign out front of the Verona before.

I felt the movie must have been strongly influenced by Winton's later Breath, with a fair bit of surfing. Western Australia looks like a foreign country, and sometimes there is overreach in the pathos. Often the stories are revelatory, and it is not clear that the presented axis is enough of a pivot to achieve the indicated effect. As always the movie adaptation involves some loss of inner space. Each comes with its own ambience, spanning over-talking, dialogue and silence. There are some particularly striking uses of suspense, such as when the Aboriginal kids go to the beach with their elder men, who engrossed and dignified in their fishing allow the boys a little too much freedom. Another has a mature version (Callan Mulvey) of a kid entangled in other child's death returning to the scene.

The pick of the actors is probably Rose Byrne, who turned in a masterfully egoless performance opposite an ever-beautiful Miranda Otto. This was the lynchpin story, I guess - turning towards Christ, the domestic violence, the low expectations and possibilities of the trailer park. Throughout the portrayal of Christinianity is respectful. Roxburgh and Blanchett have fun as a married couple, though Niven is a bit too arch as his mother. I did not identify Mia Wasikowska. Hugo Weaving's dead man walking reminded me somehow of an earlier Australian cop movie that I can't recall the name of. Dan Wyllie turns in a solid effort too in the final (? - I think) one, revealing his deadly skeet shooting skills. I was captivated by the dance episode: a woman works her way through a series of seated blokes, lined up like they are practising the hats puzzle. The final bloke suspends her with a single arm; he holds the woman (the world?) in his palm. Susie Porter is a happy-go-lucky cleaning lady whose lawyer-in-training son learns from a teachable moment.