Art & Design
Posted by Jenn Winterbine
09. May, 2011
Brendan Fletcher’s Mad Bastards is a road movie with a difference. Set in northern Western Australia, it is a story about broken families, self-reflection and kinship.
TJ (Dean Daley-Jones) is an urban drifter whose life has veered off course. After a falling out with his mother, he embarks on a long journey north to Kimberley, hoping to reconnect with his thirteen year old son Bullet (Lucas Yeeda). Upon his arrival he meets a series of warmhearted locals from Five Rivers who teach him about himself, his heritage, and how the land can heal him.
The story of TJ and his son is a unique look at the way remote Aboriginal communities run. Five Rivers is a close-knit community in which neighbors look out for each other. The town elders invest time and energy into making sure the teenagers stay out of jail – an all too familiar fate for many indigenous youths who are often incarcerated for small crimes like shoplifting. The town policeman, Grandpa Tex (Greg Tait), is expected to be tough, but also cares deeply about the families within the town. His life is further complicated when Bullet – his grandson – faces possible jail time for vandalism.
The film was in production for over a year. This is because the screenwriting process was a collaborative one. Actors contributed ideas from their own lives to create a screenplay that deals with domestic violence, alcoholism, and incarceration. The communal spirit in which the narrative was written mirrors the tradition of storytelling that is a core part of Aboriginal culture.
Mad Bastards boasts stunning cinematography of an untouched landscape. The flora and fauna of remote Australia are filmed with a crisp precision, accompanied by the upbeat folk tunes of local legends The Pigram Brothers. For TJ, the breathtaking wilderness is a welcome change from the polluted highways of Perth. As he observes, many Aboriginal sacred sites in Perth have been destroyed to make way for development projects, in particular the Swan Brewery which was the subject of a contentious legal battle in 1992. The montage scenes of the Kimberley region are so moving because they showcase one of the few places left in Australia that remains untouched by developers.
Mad Bastards is a raw, poetic story about the search for redemption. It fuses personal stories together to create a rich portrait of life in remote communities. This humanism, accompanied with an incredible soundtrack and remarkable cinematography, makes it an engaging cinematic experience.
Mad Bastards is now showing in selected cinemas. For session times visit: www.cinemanova.com.au
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