Converting a book into a movie is a tricky business, as both negative and positive comparisons are necessary. ‘The Dry’ is a highly anticipated 2020 Australian mystery film, based on the book of the same name by Jane Harper (2016). Roadshow Films released the film in Australia on January 1, 2021 last year. The film was well received by critics. According to reports, IFC Films will release the same in the United States today. Unlike before when a movie release would mean a nationwide release in theaters, things have changed quite a bit now. So the question arises, how exactly can you watch the movie?
Before we get into those details, a little background on the movie. Jane Harper’s book was a bestseller and the movie is sure to do well, despite the fact that most of us know what happens at the end. The film is written and directed by Robert Conolly and produced by Bruna Papandrea and Reese Witherspoon. The film features Eric Bana as the lead actor, Federal Agent Aaron Falk. Genevieve O’Reilly and Keir O ‘Donell also star in the film.
The basic storyline
Before the pandemic wreaked havoc around the world, Australia suffered an unusually hot 2019-2020 wildfire season. This period was known as the Black Summer and 18.6 million hectares went up in flames, killing hundreds of people, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and burning down nearly three billion live animals. Robert Connolly’s The dry is a small Australian murder mystery set against the backdrop of this drought.
After more than 20 years, Aaron returns to his drought-stricken hometown of Kiewerra (fictional) to attend the funeral of his childhood friend Luke. Luke is believed to have killed his wife and son before pointing the gun at himself. Somehow he had spared his baby. Luke’s parents, shocked by the death of their relatives, ask Aaron to stay a little longer and investigate without getting formally involved. Aaron’s return recalls the old mystery surrounding the death of a teenage girl he had a relationship with. The Dry’s screenplay remains largely true to the book, except in a few instances, such as the cast of Eric Bana (who has a very different personality) as Aaron compared to the book-like version of the character. Fortunately, the story plays out more like a crime thriller than a gothic drama. The film has an IMDb rating of 7/10 and Rotten Tomatoes has given the film a 4/5 rating.
Back and forth
The film has beautifully shot flashback sequences interspersed with current events. The flashbacks showed the city when it was still full of greenery and the river was a favorite place for swimming. The film avoids the usual elements used to portray life in Australia, the film takes a different approach and still gives you the feeling of the place. The drowning of Ellie, a troubled teenager who was attracted to both Aaron and Luke in the river, left many unanswered questions and made the locals hostile to Aaron. So in the end, Aaron had to leave town. When he returns to the same place after 20 years, he is both nostalgic and troubled. It’s clear in many ways that Aaron has become and is also treated like an outsider after not being in town for two decades. Bana as Aaron delivers a soulful performance. His conflicting feelings, his understanding of death, both past and present, are all beautifully portrayed by Bana.
Judging by the themes discussed in Harper’s book, such as a secret gay relationship, child sexual abuse, gambling addiction, questions about paternity, which could be excuses for melodrama, are portrayed with great sensitivity by Conolly’s guidance.
How do you watch the 2021 film?
The Dry can be seen in cinemas across the United States starting today, May 21. Those who don’t want to go to a theater to watch it on the big screen or stream it on Amazon Prime. The film is distributed by IFC Films. At this time, no UK release date has been announced.
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