From a Raymond Carver story, the emotional underpinnings simmering around a quiet town in the Snowy Mountains of southeast Australia are pure and wrenching.
In Jindabyne, directed with unsettling precision by Ray Lawrence, four men, including Gabriel Byrne's Stewart, get away to enjoy their annual fishing trip. Upon arrival at their campsite, they discover the female body of an Aboriginal in the river. The film grips one on the decision not to tell the police until they return home.
The thoughtful screenplay by Beatrix Christian lets us into the community beyond the exhilirating look of the landscape around Jindabyne and New South Wales. It's about the repression, touching on the darkness well beneath what really seems placid. The subtle exposition to how these people have come to be is part of the meaning and the depth to potentially fateful circumstances.
Lawrence, who ably helmed the thorny, yet delicately and intimate Lantana, modulates human feelings and conflict with deep understanding. That includes the difficulties within indigenous subcultures, societal prejudice, chauvanism, and ignorance in belong to an adopted land.
The allegorical implications are finely wrought from the notion of the town being unsafe from the highway to the lake, and how its topography changed because of a reservoir.
If a rather guiltless Byrne is at the top of his game, the women in this ensemble are particularly forceful. The outcry and loathing are felt through Stewart's overstressed wife (Laura Linney of Breach), a mysterious wife (Alice Garner), and a loquacious wife (Deborra-Lee Furness, the spouse of Hugh Jackman). Even through the mousy girlfriend played by Leah Purcell, everything feels natural, even the humor that pops up within the devestation and desperation.
Some may feel more than slighted at the ambiguity Jindabyne comes to at the finish line, but the power of the imagery and apprehension that comes from what has been harbored, told, and untold is something that is authentic, intricate, and unforgettable.