, four men head off for their beloved annual fishing trip in the isolated high country of Australia
when they discover the body of a dead girl in the river. Instead of calling the authorities, however, they decide to proceed with their fishing trip since there isn’t really anything they can do for her and
only report her death once their weekend is over.
When the men get back to town, all Hell breaks loose. Their wives can’t understand what they did, and worse, because the dead girl was an Aborigine, it has evolved into a racial crisis.
Jindabyne was adapted by first-time screenwriter Beatrix Christian from a short story by Raymond Carver called “So Much Water So Close to Home.” It was reworked to fit in Australia (hence it is named Jindabyne, after a town that was relocated when the Snowy River was dammed), but preserves the working class spirit that pervades most of Carver’s writing.
Gabriel Byrne (End of Days, The Usual Suspects) and Laura Linney (Kinsey, You Can Count on Me) do their usual strong work heading up a predominantly Australian cast under director Ray Lawrence (Lantana). But although Jindabyne’s cinematography features sweeping scenes of the Australian countryside as stunning as any of those opening shots from Brokeback Mountain, it ultimately has some bigger issues.
It nearly drowns in back story for a hard-to-follow number of characters, not getting around to the major issue (of the men leaving the body to keep fishing) for quite some time, and revisiting the ample subplots after getting to it. It’s a shame, because the points it raises about the tensions between white Australians and Aborigines could be interesting ones. Better rent Rabbit-Proof Fence if that’s what you’re up for.