Mystery Road (15)

Directed and written by Ivan Sen
Picturehouse, Liverpool
28th October 2014

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This movie, set in contemporary Australia, resembles an American western at times, with aboriginal detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) almost looking the part of a sheriff from that genre, all he was missing was a tin star attached to his shirt!

He finds himself embroiled in a no-win situation. He is not trusted by his own community, the aboriginal folks who reside in a small town in the Queensland outback, nor the white community, many of whom are openly racist towards him.

The plot treads familiar ground - the death of an aboriginal teenager, who is found with her throat cut by a highway outside of town, but the film diversifies the story with a menacing and oppressive air, as Swan tries to uncover the killer.

His intensive investigation into the murder leads to him unravelling drug and prostitution rings as well as police corruption - surprise, surprise!.

As well as Mystery Road, with the signpost seen in the opening credits, there is also the aptly named Massacre Creek, which adds an extra foreboding to the setting of the movie.

In a strong cast, there is a notable performance by bent cop Johnno (Hugo Weaving - V For Vendetta)

The cinematography By multi-talented Ivan Sen, who was also director, scriptwriter and music composer. also deserves praise. Shot in widescreen, it lends a greater dimension to the aerial shots of Swan driving his car through town and the stunning outdoor locations.

I found the shoot-out in the closing stages a bit B-western-like but nevertheless this is a memorable film.

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