Produced by: Jan Chapman, Nicole O’Donohue
Screenplay by: Simon Stone
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider, Mirada Otto, Anna Torv, Odessa Young, Sam Neill.
An Australian film based on a play by Henrik Ibsen, ‘The Wild Duck’.
After Henry (Jeoffrey Rush) closes down the timber mill, the town starts dying – boarded-up shop fronts reflect the people left: hidden secrets kept behind the surface of happy families. But slowly, the surface is scratched away as Chris (Paul Schneider), Henry’s son, reunites with his family and old Uni mate, Oliver (Ewen Leslie), to attend his father’s wedding to his second wife, Anna (Anna Torv).
I love films based on plays – you always know the characters are well-developed and the dialogue a highlight and authentic. But I hadn’t prepared myself for the emotional kick in the stomach this film became.
This is a story about being lucky in life even if it’s not perfect. A roof over the head of a loving family, that’s being lucky. Yet, the others who don’t have it, want to destroy it. Even if they think it’s the right thing to do. And there’s many a sad story behind every seemingly happy family. And this is a very sad story. Yes, a few deep breaths are required.
I was particularly affected by the stand-out performances of Miranda Otto playing Hedvig and Ewen Leslie as Oliver, playing father and daughter and the beautiful relationship between them. Sam Neill as the grandfather is also worth mentioning – ‘Stories like these are as old as the hills’, he says.
The setting of the film is chosen carefully: country scenery of fog drifting through the trees of a pine forest and sunlight reflected off the water running through grassy banked rivers. Yes, there’s some real beauty here.
And Hedvig is such a lovely, smart girl, her love of the people in her life a fragile treasure that all who know her try to protect. But mostly there’s a sadness, like a duck shot out of the sky and left with a broken wing. You can only hope she’ll fly again. Lucky duck if she’s saved. But is she lucky if she can’t fly?
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