Perhaps the best way to tell a difficult story is with simplicity. Never one to shy away from difficult subjects, director Rolf de Heer (Bad Boy Bubby, Ten Canoes) tackles the repercussions of disinheritance in the Aboriginal culture in Charlie’s Country.
The story centres on the title character Charlie, who is trying to live his life in the way he wants, and in the way he knows. But with the police station sitting on his land and the white officers inside it making up the rules – which include taking away Charlie’s right to find, kill and eat his own food – it is not what Charlie wants, it is not what he knows.
Thus begins his angry spiral downward.
De Heer’s style of storytelling seems to be of the keep it simple and don’t force it, the story will tell itself school of thought. There is one main character. There is very little dialogue. There is a basic plot, uncomplicated by backstories, love stories or secondary complications.
The camera work isn’t flashy, with the most emotive scenes being lingering close-ups of actor David Gulpilil’s face.
To say Gulpilil’s performance as Charlie is extraordinary is really too easy. De Heer conceived this film with Gulpilil in mind, having filmed both The Tracker and Ten Canoes with him, and knowing what the actor was capable of.
The give and take in the collaboration between director and actor is evident, and Gulpilil shines. The Cannes Film Festival agreed, honouring him with the Best Actor Award in the Un Certain Regard category. If there is anything he gives away in this film, it’s that the film is personal.
And when I left the cinema, I not only felt that I had witnessed something personal, but that I had been allowed to feel a part of it.
More InDaily film reviews:
Venus in Fur
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Belle & Sebastian
Rising From the Ashes
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Yves St Laurent
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