Saturday, August 09, 2014

Charlie's Country

 It's fair to say I am likely to go to any film that David Gulpilil , the star of Charlie's Country, is in. It's a particular pleasure to watch him walk - he has the most upright carriage of anyone I can think of and a light springy step. It's a bit like the pleasure you get from watching a dancer. Having committed to going to this film on that basis, there was the trepidation that comes with going to a film about indigenous Australians about whether it's going to be unbearably depressing.

Happily, this depiction of life in the Northern Territory (set in an aboriginal community and in Darwin) is
painted with light strokes and we see both good and bad aspects. Charlie is the main character and he is in almost every shot. In the community Charlie lives in a bivouac and has the opportunity to dabble in the traditional lifestyle - although the local cops take exception to him carrying a spear through the village and confiscate the buffalo that he and a friend shoot because their firearms are unregistered. Going walkabout results in pneumonia and he is med-evac'ed to Darwin. Discharging himself from hospital he lives rough in town, gets jailed for supplying alcohol to  people he shouldn't and is eventually released back to the community.

The film touches on the nature of friendship, the beauty of the landscape, the mostly patronising but usually well meaning nature of authority (the police, the housing officer, healthcare workers) and the community's residents' awareness of their health issues. There are moments of great humour ( Charlie doing some tracking for the police is one that stands out) and also ones of great pathos. Charlie's Country was an enjoyable watch.

Anne's rating 3.5/5

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