Mystery Road, film review: Brooding Aussie western cranks up the tension

(15) Ivan Sen, 122 mins Starring: Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Ryan Kwanten
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The Independent Culture

Ivan Sen's slow-burning but very powerful Aussie western is one of those films in which the main character walks as if he has a ball and chain attached to his feet.

Aboriginal detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) is as deliberate in his movements as he is restrained in his emotions. Swan is right to be wary. Back in his home town, he is caught between the white establishment (often openly racist) and the indigenous community.

The plot, involving the murder of a teenage girl, is familiar from countless other cop dramas – but where Mystery Road registers most strongly is in its brooding and oppressive mood.

Shooting in widescreen, Sen makes excellent use of his remote locations and slowly cranks up the tension before throwing in a strangely ritualised final reel shootout.