The Turning, adapted from Tim Winton’s best selling book, is a unique piece of cinema. The film is made up of 18 self-contained stories of Australian life, lovingly crafted by 18 different directors. Each director brings something distinctive to the mix, ensuring no two chapters are alike. Reoccurring characters and beautiful Australian scenery tie all the pieces together into an interwoven whole that is satisfyingly complex. These connections are often so subtle that it is easy to miss them, but are heartbreaking when they are revealed.
Featuring stars such as Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and directed by emerging and established Australian artists such as Stephen Page, Anthony Lucas and Marieka Walsh, The Turning is a truly Australian endeavour. The directors obviously understand the country very well and capture the essence of both rural and urban settings perfectly. The casting, for the most part, was also pretty spot-on. Matt Nable’s portrayal of the working class alcoholic Max, for instance, was perfect. The actors played their parts wonderfully, making each character realer than real. The ‘Reunion’ section, however, was not so great. The acting in this scene fell flat, and felt far too scripted compared to the rest of the film.
Almost every director focused on the duality of the Australian setting. On one hand we are presented with vast, stunning wildernesses, and on the other we have lower class homes sitting beside dirty rivers. This contrast is really interesting and made for some absolutely magnificent scenes. ‘Cockleshell’ was perhaps my favourite chapter simply because of its setting, a mix of scenic and industrial that sums up humanity’s relationship to nature and reminds us of the variety of lifestyles existing in this diverse country.
While The Turning is big, it is also quiet. The rarity of dialogue or any sounds whatsoever makes the vastness seem all the more vast and the subtle expressions of the actors more significant. The Turning evokes more emotions with a single shot than many films do with entire speeches. The film’s minimalism draws us into a hypnotic trance and magnifies the simplest actions until they become almost horrifying. The film can go from charming to disturbing with ease, which I believe is a testament to both Winton and the directors.
The Turning’s 3-hour runtime and experimental techniques may be off-putting to many. The creators seemed to be obsessed with some quite artsy shots and copious amounts of slow motion. While a great many of these scenes were absolutely gorgeous and aided in creating the feeling of emptiness and tranquillity that so pervades the film, I can’t help but feeling that cutting back on the slow-mo would reduce the hefty runtime quite a bit.
The Turning is a beautifully crafted, unique film that highlights some of the best talent the country has to offer.
Reviewed by James Rudd
Rating out of 10: 7.5
Tim Winton’s The Turning opens 26 September 2013
To celebrate the release of Tim Winton’s The Turning we have a DVD pack to give away showcasing the work of artists contributing to the film. The pack includes: Home Song Stories (Tony Ayres), Balibo (Robert Connolly), Van Diemen’s Land (Joanthan Auf Der Heide, Maggie Miles) and Samson & Delilah (Warwick Thornton, Kath Shelper).
The competition closes 16 September 2013. Enter here!