October 07, 2020
The film-makers have shot for profundity and lyricism to match the Australian classic, but ended up with something flavourless – and occasionally cloying
Dirt Music review – Tim Winton adaptation falls flat despite cinematic dreams
Garrett Hedlund takes his shirt off a lot in the romantic movie Dirt music – his creamy-skinned, chiselled-featured body seemingly belonging to a gene pool combining Errol Flynn with a Hemsworth brother. The American Actor, who boasts an impressively convincing Australian accent, screams “beach hunk” in no uncertain terms. Some of the film’s problems arise when the script – adapted by director Gregor Jordan from Tim Winton’s Miles Franklin award-winning novel of the same name – requires his character to scream other things too, such as “mysterious person with a traumatic past” and “broken, emotionally reticent man”.
The narrative initially appears to be unfolding from the perspective of former nurse Georgie (Scottish Kelly Macdonald, also with a good accent), who is the girlfriend of a wealthy fisherman (David Wenham) – although their relationship is going through a bad patch. But Hedlund’s character, Lu, a musician-cum-lobster thief (now there’s a career progression to put on your LinkedIn profile), wrests co-lead status after the pair bump into each other while Georgie is skinny-dipping in the ocean at night. This moment is bathed in a deep midnight blue, emphasising water as a key motif and implying a fleeting tranquility – the calm before the storm.
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