10 August 2008
Unfinished Sky, dir. Peter Duncan (2007)
There's nothing I love more than a good Australian movie. There have been quite a few this year, and Unfinished Sky is definitely among them, if the not the best of the lot. It's been a long time since I've seen a film so wracked with aggression that was also as erotic and emotional as this one. I was worn out by the end, as emotionally ragged as the main characters. The film is so clever and so well-written that as inevitable as much of the story is, it still grips as each revelation is made.
So, it's a remake of a Dutch film called The Polish Bride, which also starred Monic Hendrickx from this version. A sheep farmer, John, in Queensland is going about his solemn day when a woman in a yellow raincoat stumbles towards his house and falls down in the field meters from the front verandah. She's been beaten pretty severely and so he takes her in and cleans her up, resisting an impulse to call an ambulance or the police. He discovers that the woman, Tahmeena, is an illegal Afghani worker hired as cleaner in a local hotel. Her employers are looking for her, and not all seems right. So John keeps her, fixes her up, and attempts to learn about her.
Slowly, but surely, the pair develop feelings for each other. John makes it his mission to seek out Tahmeena's family and get her back to where she needs to be without intervention from anyone else. He must hide her, which arouses suspicion, but he's so far out in the middle of nowhere, he keeps his secret well. And then Tahmeena makes a discovery of her own, and suddenly the mystery surrounding John begins to unravel. We suddenly find out why he reacted so badly when Tahmeena tried to help him finish his massive blue-sky puzzle. (The thematic underpinnings of that puzzle -- oh, makes me want to cry thinking about it.)
These two are so damaged and alone that their coming together, so well-paced and drawn out, is shattering. The writing is exemplary; it's all about looks and touches, and just feels so authentic. There's a scene in which John finds a hair clip and ties Tahmeena's hair back before dinner. He's not doing it on purpose, but the way he sweeps up her hair and clips the little silver thing on is just so sensual. This film is noteworthy especially for the smallest things, the tiniest moments and expressions saying so much.
It was just a great movie. I hope it sweeps the AFIs this year. It deserves to.