The Dry by Robert Connolly [7/10]

That Robert Connolly chose to tackle a bog standard genre mystery novel indicates how emblematic he considers Jane Harper’s bestselling debut to be. “The Dry” faithfully tracks Harper’s intricate plot and also aspires to mirror that novel’s star feature, its evocation of a drought-desiccated Australian outback town. On both counts Connolly’s sure hands are evident. The serpentine plot is unfolded with precision, a feat made more difficult by copious flashbacks. And the cinematography evokes the look and sound of a Mallee town beset by nearly a year without rain. Eric Bana is well cast, and acts strongly, playing Aaron Falk, a Melbourne policeman who returns to his birth town for the funeral of his best friend from school days, who has seemingly killed his wife and daughter, before killing himself. Aaron had fled after a teenage female friend was found killed; now the past and present collide as he seeks to exonerate his mate. I recall the novel had a swift, twisting plot, and the movie’s faithful rendering of that ratchets up the tension until a final, unexpected ending. So … The Dry is a bog standard genre mystery movie that matches and perhaps slightly betters its novelistic birth. Recommended as a fine two hours of moviegoing.

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