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Australia 1993
Directed by
James Ricketson
98 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Based the book The Day of The Dog by Archie Weller, who co-wrote the script with the director, Ricketson’s film tells of an part-Aboriginal (John Moore) caught between his allegiance to his “people” and his aspirations to escape the cycle of abuse and self-destructive behaviour in which they live in the name of "brotherhood". On one side is his life-long friend, the charismatic but feckless “Pretty Boy” (David Ngoombujarra), and the girl to whom he is attracted, Polly (Jaylene Riley). On the other there is his white mother (Julie Hudspeth) and the values and material comforts of white man’s civilization.

Although the script tends to rely overmuch on a conventional narrative trajectory, for the most part it convincingly depicts the incompatibilities of Aboriginal and Anglo-Australian world views and the realities of the Aboriginals’ marginalized lives (the Nyoongah people whose homeland is now occupied by Perth where this story is set contributed to the film). Using a largely untrained cast, the performances by Moore and Riley do lack rhythm at times and Ricketson’s direction, particularly of action sequences can lack finesse, but David Ngoombujarra, who won an AFI Best Supporting Actor, exudes a natural charisma whilst overall the film resonates with a trenchant truthfulness that makes it well worth watching.




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