There were several great movies at this year's Portland International Film Festival (see our PIFF coverage here), but the one that's probably stuck with me the longest is Australian director Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country. I've eagerly been looking forward to it getting a proper release in Portland, but today it snuck onto the schedule at Fox Tower with almost no fanfare.
That's kind of a shame, because this is an extraordinary movie, and you absolutely should go see it in the next seven days—there's no telling if it will stick around any longer. It also marks the second excellent Australian film this year (after the sadly neglected Goldstone) to be dumped onto a single local screen with no advance press or promotion. Here's what I said about Sweet Country back in February:
Australian director Warwick Thornton’s excellent historical drama, Sweet Country, [is] set in a barely civilized 1929 Northern Territory. An Aboriginal man, Sam (Hamilton Morris), kills a “whitefella” in self-defense, and a search party—including Sam Neill and Bryan Brown—pursues him into the inhospitable outback. If the film has a weak point, it’s how Sam’s wife is relegated to the background for much of the story, but her experience, and indeed her muted presence, gives the film a powerful undercurrent, and Thornton avoids the easy tack of turning the imperfect Sam into a martyr. The film deftly echoes Australian classics like Wake in Fright and Walkabout along with American westerns, but its depiction of institutional racism set against impassive terrain feels altogether unique.My admiration and affection for the movie has only grown since then, and the image at the top of this post gives you a sense of the movie's visual strengths, while the performances are phenomenal across the board. I'd advise against watching the trailer—I think it gives a fraction too much of the plot away—but if you are interested in seeing a terrific film this weekend that's not about a giant purple cartoon chin fighting three white dudes named Chris, Sweet Country is something you should really make time for.