The best-selling “The Dry” by Jane Harper is one of those books written as if for a feature film adaptation: a fast-paced, plot-driven and dialogue-rich genre narrative (crime-thriller), with a central setting perfect for cinematic imagery. The adaptation of Director Robert Connolly is a very tense and polished film, confidently acted and directed, with a certain sense of tonal coherence – despite a lot of, well, air in the scene, which comes from countless mid- and long-shots that capture in a fictional Australian outback town barren outdoor locations. Like Harper’s novel, the story, written by Connolly and Harry Cripps, is based on two mysteries: one involving the recent past and the other a distant past; both involve deaths that may or may not have been assassinations. Aaron Falk (Eric Bana), an Australian federal police officer who returns to his fictional hometown of Kiewarra, apparently committed suicide after his old friend Luke (Martin Dingle Wall) murdered his wife and child before shooting himself.
Brief, introductory photos show the aftermath of the incident and segue into shots of the city rendered in dusty yellows that characterize the aesthetic of the film; on the other hand, brief, flickering visions of Melbourne are rendered in steep blues, with Bana doing what actors always do when put in skyscrapers: he stares thoughtfully at the concrete jungle around him through the window, with a facial expressio The dryness in Connolly’s film indicates that things could catch fire at any moment: literally, as Kiewarra is a danger zone for bushfire, but also in other ways – for example, the mental temperature of the locals, many of whom respond hostilely to the presence of Falk. The parents of the deceased man (Julia Blake and Bruce Spence) are adamant that he did not do it, and ask Falk to investigate. When he does, accusations surrounding the mysterious death of Falk’s childhood friend Ellie (BeBe Bettencourt) several years ago are thrown back at him. With a general consensus among the locals that he lied about his whereabouts on the day of her death, Falk was implicated in her demise. Throughout the movie, this is conveyed, shading the protagonist in fascinating ways and rendering him a morally opaque character – far from a straightforward hero and probably a credible suspect in terms of past events. Including Sergeant Greg Raco (Keir O’Donnell), Ellie’s feisty father Mal (William Zappa) and cousin Grant (Matt Nable), an uncooperative farmer (James Frecheville), the school principal (John Polson) and Falk’s long-time girlfriend and quasi-lover Gretchen (Genevieve O’Reilly), Falk soaks up the tales, behaviors and personalities of the townspeople.
The performance of Bana provides a dour, compelling version of the “bad cop” stereotype, with his character also strengthened in the frequent hops back in time by visions of a younger version of himself, played by Joe Klocek. “the teenage world “the teenage world “return to a narrative past inserted into a narrative present.”return to a narrative past inserted into a narrative present.