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Mystery Road (15A) - 'the closing shot is worth the price of admission alone'


Thriller starring Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Tony Barry, Tasma Walton, David Field, directed by Ivan Sen.

The Australian Tourist Board must be feeling very conflicted of late, with plenty of films being made in the country, but very few of them making you feel like ever visiting the place.

A few weeks back we had the sight of drunken Brits on the rampage down under in The Inbetweeners 2, while only last week Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson starred in the violent post-collapse drama The Rover, which showed the Outback in all its bleak, alien savagery. 

Well, this week we're back in the dusty wilds with Mystery Road, a complex thriller that offers several interesting takes on contemporary Australia.

As with several stories set in the Bush, Mystery Road has the feel of a Western, as Aboriginal detective Jay (Aaron Pedersen) returns to his home community and is immediately faced with the murder of a teenage girl.  Faced with barely disguised racism from his colleagues and suspicion from his own community for joining the police force, Jay is that classic figure of a man alone, trying to do the right thing but faced with obstacles on all sides.

Despite being beautiful to look at - the closing shot is worth the price of admission alone - the problem with Mystery Road is that it leaves the viewer with a few too many loose ends to tie up.  A couple of story strands are left hanging for no apparent reason and the sudden change of behaviour by key characters - not least drug squad office Johnno (Hugo Weaving) and Jay's alcoholic ex-wife Mary (Tasma Walton) - just doesn't really add up.

For all that, Aaron Pendersen is thoroughly believable as the conflicted Jay and the blasted landscape is photographed so well you'll be sweating and swatting the flies away from your own face after 10 mins.

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