In the suburb of Snowtown 16-year old Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) and his brother are molested by their mother’s boyfriend. Once she finds out, a group of local vigilantes lead by John (Daniel Henshall) take the law into their own hands and drive the offender out of town, using a variety of methods including throwing churned up deer guts at his house. Jamie grows ever closer to John, gradually discovering this charismatic man’s violent side is much more brutal than he could have imagined. It is up to Jamie to decide how involved he wants to get in the actions of John and his goons.
Considering the first sentence of this review involved child molestation you can probably tell that Snowtown is not a laugh riot filled with slapstick comedy and sight gags. Instead what we have is a drama with a very natural feel, the mundanity of life is interspersed with extreme violence in such a way that this true story seems all the more real, and the violence within all the more tortuous.
Justin Kurzel has made a beautiful and convincing film, one which does not glamorise the brutality it contains. He also manages to pull out a moving performance from his leading man Lucas Pittaway who had no previous experience in film. Ultimately though the star was Daniel Henshall who brought some genuine charm to a man it would be easy to vilify.
Snowtown was a grim but powerful film. The kitchen sink drama and handheld camera only served to heighten the intense violence. It is slightly too long, but truly affecting. Snowtown fits into the widening category of great films you are never truly going to “enjoy” in the traditional sense. Shame not everyone in the audience felt the same as me, “Thank f*ck, that’s over” could easily be heard from the back row.
Snowtown is on limited release this Friday, 18th November 2011.