Sweet Country Reviewed By Clayton Barnett

The Premise
Australian western set on the Northern Territory frontier in the 1920s, where justice itself is put on trial when an aged Aboriginal farmhand shoots a white man in self-defense and goes on the run as posse gathers to hunt him down.

The Review
Aussie western Sweet Country hits all the sweet spots - a gritty and gorgeous look at our neighbours’ dark colonial past, with our own Sam Neill in vintage form.

Australian filmmakers have taken the American western and made it their own - like The Proposition, Ned Kelly or The Tracker amongst others - and Sweet Country slots right into these gritty Aussie classics.

Australian director and cinematographer Warwick Thornton made a critical splash with his debut Samson & Delilah - winner of the Golden Camera at Cannes - and his powerful indigenous voice and stunning eye is back in only his second narrative feature.  

He’s got something to say on race and colonisation here in this unforgiving, brutal frontier justice story set in 1929, that has plenty of ramifications today and for Australia and around the world. Seems to be channelling the same unsettling vein of 1978 Aussie classic drama The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith.

Now this is a massively slow burn western, with no score it moves along glacially. But if you love rich production detail, scorched landscapes and grizzled acting from some of Australasia’s finest it’s a rewarding watch.

Bryan Brown and Sam Neill have some bromance simmering here (they really need to star in some Last Vegas style comedy). The two say so much with so little, and Sam himself even gets a few much-needed laughs as he sings Jesus Loves Me.

But it’s Hamilton Morris in his first feature film role that is just so captivating as Sam, and kudos to young twins Tremayne and Trevon Doolan who play young larrikin farmhand Philomac.

The Verdict
Samson & Delilah director Warwick Thornton is back with a brutal and breath-taking Aussie western that has a lot to say about Australia’s dark colonial past. Worth admission alone for another quality Sam Neill performance.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 12th April 2018
Rating: TBC
Duration: 113 minutes
Genre:  Western
Starring: Bryan Brown, Matt Day, Tremayne Doolan
Director: Warwick Thornton (Green Bush)

The Extras
The picture's director Warwick Thornton has said of this movie's filming locations and settings: "That landscape around Alice Springs is sacred. The MacDonnell Ranges are always in my mind from growing up there with my family. So, Sweet Country (2017) is a film about the land and our family, and what happened when the missionaries and pastoralists arrived."

Many local townspeople of the Australian outback town of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory appeared in the film as extras and background artists.

Publicity for this picture states that this Australian film "is a true collaboration utilizing locations, government assistance and filmmakers from all across Australia".

This major Australian motion picture is based on a true story and was "inspired by real events".