Film Review – Blueback

Blueback (M)

Directed by: Robert Connolly

Starring: Radha Mitchell, Mia Wasikowska, Eric Bana

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

The beautiful Western Australian coastline and some of Australia’s top acting talent is showcased in this lovely tale of an unlikely bond between a fish and a young woman based on Tim Winton’s 1997 novel.

Abby (Mia Wasikowska) is called back to her small, quiet, seaside town when her mother Dora (Liz Alexander) has a stroke and needs care.

The trip home brings memories of Abby’s childhood flooding back in which her environmentalist Mum (Radha Mitchell) raised her to appreciate and protect the small bay that the live alongside.

During their numerous diving explorations throughout the years, Abby (Ariel Donoghue and Ilsa Fogg) encounters and bonds with a Blueback fish, one that, along with the rest other various marine life, is threatened by developers who are keen to carve up the land for an estate.

Blueback makes no bones about its environmental and conservationist message, it’s prime focus is to drive home a positive message about the importance of preserving our precious marine life.

And there is no better way to do it than to film on WA’s picturesque coastline and utilise some top tier screen stars to engage an audience.

Wasikowska is understated, while Mitchell relishes the opportunity to play a mother who is fiercely protective of her environment and Bana offers identifiable and likable larrikinism that radiates off the screen.

It is heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, but the general tone is surprisingly low-key, and while it is admiral that director Robert Connolly has avoided broad theatrical dramatics to impact his audience, it often feels like he has dialed it down a little too far.

Blueback is a lovely exploration of the connection between people and their environment and nature versus nurture that could have benefited from a stronger Indigenous perspective.

Blueback is screening from November 21 to 27 as part of Perth Festival Lotterywest Films at UWA Somerville Auditorum.

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