HEALING | THE REVIEW

HEALING is a superb Australian film, as good as any Hollywood film, and as equal as most art house films. It is a cinematography masterpiece for its cinematography of birds, and the plot is admirable. But it is not listed on the website as getting a commercial release in the big guy’s cinemas – my mind is currently boggling?? It is listed on Hoyts as “Releasing in May,” Event has no listing for it, and the website for the film HEALING: THE WEBSITE has it listed only in art house cinemas. Why why why? Shame shame shame. I loved this film. Another great film we can be proud of that sits in the canon of Australian cinema. HEALING releases 8th May in THESE CINEMAS (unless the big guys add them – keep your eyes out for that).

REVIEW BY JASON KING

 

HEALING | MOVIE POSTER VIKTOR KHADEM (DON HEADY AND EAGLE)
HEALING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER VIKTOR KHADEM (DON HEADY AND EAGLE)

 

Viktor Khadem (Don Hany in his debut feature film lead role) is a man who has almost given up on life after 18 years inside. Near the end of his sentence he is sent to Won Wron, a low-security prison farm 200 km outside Melbourne in regional Victoria, where Senior Case Worker Matt Perry (Hugo Weaving in his third collaboration with Craig Monahan) has established a unique program to rehabilitate broken men through giving them the responsibility for the rehabilitation of injured raptors – beautiful, fearsome proud eagles, falcons and owls. 

Against all odds, Matt takes on Viktor as his number one test case, introducing him to Yasmine, the majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle with a two metre wingspan. 

Inspired by true events, Healing is an Australian film written and directed by Craig Monahan, the multi-award winning director of The Interview – Winner of Best Film – Australian Film Institute Awards.

 

HEALING | PAUL (XAVIER SAMUEL) RELEASES HIS BIRD
HEALING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | PAUL (XAVIER SAMUEL) RELEASES HIS BIRD WHILE THE OTHERS LOOK ON

 

This is a film about redemption, freedom, healing, taming and bonding. It is beautifully told and Craig Monahan weaves a tale told with an Australian heart. Characters slowly develop and they are all more than one dimension deep. It is a prison film, like no other, it does not have fences and prisoners are only locked in at night. It is more of a half way house for damaged inmates, who like their newly acquired feathery inmates, need some TLC and rehabilitation before being allowed back into the real world. Most stereotypes are missing, excluding Anthony Hayes as Warren, the wanna be bully of the prison, but his character was needed to bond the others and give darkness to the light. The film is nearly void of violence and this was a refreshing look at prison life that really did not show the brutality or evilness of most of its inmates but concentrated on the ones who made mistakes, the ones who would give anything to get back into society.

 

HEALING | HUGO WEAVING & DON HEADY
HEALING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | HUGO WEAVING (MATT PERRY) & VIKTOR KHADEM (DON HEADY)

 

The acting is all top notch. I can only remember Hany from OFFSPRING but he has had many roles, all of them apparently my mother worships. His performance is strong and he holds the camera, with one exception, no offence, but his accent did my head in. His character is Iranian/Australian but I could only hear it as a fake accent, I did not fully buy him as the Iranian he was playing. While this was mildly distracting his performance and the character allowed me to overcome it. Weaving is just Weaving, a master at all he does, but it was great seeing him so relaxed and “outback” in Australia. I really loved his character, Matt Perry. He was overcoming as many issues as the inmates and the birds and his past tragedy really allowed him to be more like the residents, feathered or not, of the prison. This is what makes this entire rehabilitation bird trial so successful, while an officer of the prison, he sees himself no higher than the inmates and is truly there to help them. This is also Weaving’s third outing on film with director, Craig Monahan, with The Interview and Peaches both past collaborations. The Interview was the AFI award winner for 1998, along with a swag of other awards and nominations. I am still yet to see it (tut tut I know).

 

HEALING | PAUL (XAVIER SAMUEL)
HEALING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | PAUL (XAVIER SAMUEL)

 

I also have to mention Xavier Samuel (NEWCASTLE, DRIFT, THE LOVED ONES, TWILIGHT ECLIPSE, SEPTEMBER, ANONYMOUS, BAIT 3D and most recently, the not so awesome ADORATION) as you may have noticed I am a fan. I love this guy on film, call it a guilty crush, but the camera eats him. It was very different seeing him as the scared, humble and emotional wreck that he is in this role, he was nowhere near as dominant in the role but a great addition and he is the character you feel nurturing towards, he also adds some damn fine looks to the movie :). Stand out for me was Mark Leonard Winter as Shane. The young, screwed up, emotionally destroyed character who has given up on life. Winter’s portrayal of Shane is an AFI coming, it is remarkable.

 

HEALING | SHANE (MARK LEAONARD WINTER)
HEALING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | SHANE (MARK LEAONARD WINTER)

 

One huge letdown for me with this film was the character played by Tony Martin (I think the character is un-named). He is another prison guard/ rehabilitator who is Perry’s (Weaving’s) best mate. The character is a yo-yo and plays devil’s advocate and/or judge of everything that Perry does. He supports some times and crucifies the others. I did not like the schizophrenic-like friendship. Perhaps it was just me but while it was great to be going fishing with him and for Perry to have a friend, I felt he really wasn’t displaying the true characteristics of a good friend/ colleague. This and Hany’s accent were really the only two things I did not like, the rest is exceptional. The cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is worth the cost of a ticket alone. His use of “magic hour” is beauty inspiring and the way he films the birds, just stunning. It ought to be good, the man has an Oscar and more awards than a mantlepiece can handle. He was DOP/ Cinematographer on such things as Babe (both of them), The Lovely Bones, King Kong, a little franchise that scored him an Oscar known as Lord of the Rings, oh yeah, and for fun, all the Hobbit films :). I think he is the go to guy for Peter Jackson. To top off the greatness of the film we can add a splendid score composed by David Hirschfelder, who has a CV nearly as impressive as Lesnie’s (Strictly Ballroom, Dating the Enemy, Shine, Sliding Doors, The Interview, Elizabeth and Australia).

 

HEALING IMAGE |MATT (HUGO WEAVING) AND GLYNIS (JANE MENEHAUS) RELEASE A BIRD
HEALING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MATT (HUGO WEAVING) AND GLYNIS (JANE MENEHAUS) RELEASE A BIRD

 

HEALING is out May 8th in most art house cinemas and hopefully some commercial cinemas pick it up and announce it soon, you can locate cinemas for it HERE. It is being released by PINNACLE FILMS and is a huge score for them on the back of their releasing DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB. This film is made for big screen to appreciate the birds, and it needs to be seen, not only because it is Australian and we should support our own industry, but for the simple fact, it is bloody good!

 

4 Pops