As an Australian Outback family takes a trip down memory lane, this film is anything but sentimental. It's a darkly twisted drama about the tough road to redemption and forgiveness.
After staying away for 20 years, Ned (Mendelsohn) drives his young financee (Dermody) into the middle of nowhere to meet his family. She's clearly out of place in such a rural environment, and being reunited with his younger sister (Griffiths) and wheezy dad (Brown) isn't exactly comfortable for Ned, as skeletons come tumbling from the closet. As a boy (Gill then O'Donnell in flashback), he was unnaturally close to his twin sister Kate (Burner then Lowe), whose early death is also entangled with the death of his older brother (Binks then McFarlane).
Yes, this is a fairly heavy and bleak story, but actress-turned-filmmaker Ward gives it a raw beauty that keeps us gripped, darting back and forth in time to fill in key details as Ned dredges ever deeper into his memory. Ward shoots and edits the flashback scenes with particular skill, really getting into the mind of this confused boy as his closeness to Kate takes an inappropriate turn. And the moods and attitudes are razor sharp.
Meanwhile, the cast members create vivid characters that are utterly consistent even with two or three actors in various eras of each role. All of them have a haunted quality that draws us in, although as the story gets increasingly intense our ability to identify with the characters diminishes. As Kate, Lowe haunts the film beautifully, rather like she haunts everyone's memories.
Continue reading: Beautiful Kate Review