Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Australia 2011
Directed by
Brendan Fletcher
96 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars

Mad Bastards

Synopsis: TJ (Dean Daley Jones) is an indigenous urban vagrant given to drinking and brawling. Leaving Perth, he heads north to the Kimberley to find the son he has never met, 13 year old Bullet (Lucas Yeeda). Bullet’s mother, Nella (Ngaire Pigram) has recently given up the booze and is not happy about TJ’s return. Bullet’s grandfather, Texas (Greg Tait) also locks horns with TJ. The possibility of father and son reconnecting is a real challenge and hopes for breaking the cycle of violence and booze even tougher.

Based on real-life stories from people living in the Kimberley region, Mad Bastards is a film that oozes authenticity and emotion with many locals playing themselves (or versions thereof). Indeed, at the film’s end we hear some of the cast members speak about their own real life experiences and what they brought from that to their roles.

The film’s plot explores the generational issues of violence, and how being a “mad bastard” seems to permeate indigenous culture, especially its men. In a powerful opening scene we see renegade youths lighting Molotov cocktails and torching local houses. TJ’s violent ways are reflected in everything he does, especially in a vicious barroom brawl, in which he is the last man standing. We see women being beaten at drunken parties, and even the lawman Texas is now a reformed man having dealt with his own violent past. Texas tries to form a men’s support group, in which he gathers local blokes to talk about their issues but getting talk out of them is like getting blood from a stone. All the men are grappling with what it means to be a man, an Aboriginal, a father and a husband  in this harsh environment and divided, conflicted world in which Black Australia is redefining itself. Every cast member performs superbly and the father/son theme that emerges is both moving and inspiring.

Stunning use is made of the natural beauty of the region, with superb cinematography capturing its vastness and beauty. Telling focus upon character’s faces reflects their isolation and despair yet we also get to understand the immense pride of the men who still embrace and foster their traditional ways. Making the film even more unique is the fabulous music by the Pigram Brothers, a local Broome band, and singer-songwriter, Alex Lloyd. The songs are interspersed throughout the film, not merely as background, but often as part of a scene in which we see the band performing, giving a surreal and yet integrated feel to this marvellous complement to the plot.

As the credits rolled I noticed that Rolf de Heer acted as a creative consultant and certainly the outcome matches the level of his marvellously compassionate work  Every element of Mad Bastards combines to produce a very special film that should be seen by all.





Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst