An indigenous detective returns to the Outback to investigate the murder of a young girl.
‘Mystery Road‘ is a modern day western set in the Australian outback following a local detective as he investigates the death of a young girl. The detective is Jay Swan, played by Aaron Pedersen in an excellent performance, as his attempts to investigate the crime are hindered by his superiors and townsfolk who don’t want to talk about what they know. The girl, Julie, was a drug addict and had been having sex with truck drivers for money, and Swan’s investigations lead him to believe there are a lot of people in the town that don’t want this crime to be solved. It’s a standard western premise, with the good man trying to investigate wrongdoing in a hostile environment, and director Ivan Sen makes good use of the sparse setting.
The film itself tells a similar story to the New Zealand set miniseries ‘Top of the Lake‘ from last year, and it perhaps suffers as a consequence as ‘Mystery Road’ never really takes off, and it lacks the underlying emotional current that miniseries had. It’s perhaps unfair to compare a film and a miniseries, where there is more time for stories and a character to grow, but one of ‘Mystery Road’s’ issues is that it starts with a good premise, and it delivers an exciting conclusion, but the investigative aspects in the middle feel a little by the numbers and fail to maintain the intensity of the opening stages. As I mentioned, Pedersen is excellent in the lead role, and he’s assisted by several Australian character actors, with the best known on UK shores likely to be Hugo Weaving as a fellow detective, and True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten, as one of the primary suspects.
‘Mystery Road‘ is a solid crime thriller and an enjoyable watch, but it fails to move it on to the next level, and in a market saturated with these types of films that is disappointing.
Directed By: Ivan Sen
Starring: Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Tasha Walton, Robert Mammone and Ryan Kwanten