By Kate Wilson
Last night I had the honour of attending a very special red carpet event at BREC which included the the screening of an Australian film called Mystery Road as part of Cinefest Oz. The annual film festival has traditionally been held only in Busselton and further south, but this year Bunbury has jumped on board to host screenings and events.
I had a wonderful time mingling in the gorgeously decorated foyer, enjoying delicious canapes and rubbing shoulders with some of the stars of Mystery Road. Not to mention the classy trio of musicians who provided a the perfect ambiance for a glamorous evening. There were some dazzling gowns floating around the foyer.
After settling into the auditorium and hearing some speeches about Bunbury's involvement in Cinefest Oz, it was time for a drive down Mystery Road…
I'll start by saying that I loved the film. Definitely one of the best Australian films I've seen in recent years, and the best one I've seen with an outback setting.
Like most murder mysteries, Mystery Road begins with the discovery of a dead body. The plot follows indigenous detective Jay Swan, a rugged country guy with a cowboy hat and a mission to get the truth about the murder of local girl, Julie Mason.
Writer and director Ivan Sen has done a beautiful job of capturing the atmosphere and culture of an Aussie outback town. The script, cinematography and performances by a talented cast provided plenty of drama and intrigue for myself and my fellow patrons. Glancing around the auditorium, I could see that everyone was riveted.
What really stands out when you're watching this film is the pacing. It's made to be like a Western, and I definitely felt that sense that a tumbleweed could have rolled by at any given moment. The male characters exude a silent, powerful masculinity which makes the already sparse dialogue seem even sparser. This measured, heavy pace throughout the film creates an atmosphere of curious tension, and scenes of Jay's interactions with the townspeople seem to linger, somewhat eerily, as the plot unfolds.
I don't want to give too many spoilers so I won't go into detail about the plot. But I will say that it kept me guessing until the end, and I will also say that there was a full-on, kick-ass, Western-style shoot-out at the end which was definitely my favourite part! There was a Q&A session afterwards where we were able to ask questions of some of the cast members who were present, Jack Thompson, Roy Billing and David Field, and the producer David Jowsey. I wanted to know how long it took to film the shoot-out scene, and I found out that out of the 6 weeks it took to shoot the whole film, the shoot-out took 5 days!