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Movie Review: 'The Dry' Carries The Undercurrent Of A Huge Issue

The New York Times had an article recently about how because American movie release dates keep getting pushed further and further back, there’s been a mini-Renaissance in Australia regarding Aussie-made movies, which apparently don’t typically do well in their home country. Leading that charge is a dandy contemporary noir called The Dry, which is already one of the all-time top Australian-made movies at the Australian box office.


The Dry is based on a 2017 best-seller that follows a federal policeman named Aaron Falk who returns from Melbourne to his rural hometown for the funeral of a friend who apparently killed himself and his family in a murder-suicide. Falk has been away for decades, likely because of his own past, which includes the mysterious drowning death of a girl he was friends with as teenagers, and for which much of the town clearly holds Falk responsible. He’s roped into sticking around to investigate these new deaths, which leads to tension between Falk, the townspeople, and his past.


The movie stars Eric Bana, who I’m delighted to see after he’d fallen off my radar a bit. He still looks every bit the leading man Hollywood sort of tried to turn him into in the 2000s, and he can certainly still command the screen with the brooding pensiveness that kind of became his stock-in-trade, although I’d love to see him recapture the pure psychopathic mania of his breakout role in Chopper.


The Dry is a cracking whodunit, though the larger implications can’t be ignored. The phrase “climate change” is never uttered, but the title of the film is a reference to the fact that the area hasn’t had rain in nearly a year, and the drought has led to dead forests that are a tinderbox that could explode at any moment, problems Australia has been dealing with in real and devastating ways in recent years. Any good noir always has volatility lying just below the surface, but in this case, that one little spark could be apocalyptic.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.