Chicago International Film Festival 2011
Snowtown Directed by: Justin Kurzel Cast: Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: R Release Date: TBD
PLOT: A young man (Pittaway) befriends her mother's strange boyfriend (Henshall).
WHO'S IT FOR? If you’re going to see only one movie this festival season with mentally disturbed Australians, make it this one. Or, if you really wanted to get into the “Special Presentation” of Martha Marcy May Marlene and it was sold out, give this one a whirl.
The more quiet that one is about Snowtown the better; its electric grip holds tightest on audience members who don’t know where this story is going, or how it will end.
The power from Snowtown comes from its disorientation. It sneaks its fingers onto you with its palpably dirty atmosphere, and it slams you into the wall, with no warning. Multiple times, with imagery and random moments that make the movie even more curious, Snowtown is the type of movie that relishes in people asking themselves “What the f**k is going on?” It’s sprinkled with cold imagery that comes with so little explanation it’s like they’re pieces of performance art more than tempts at horror filmmaking.
Especially with its title, this movie enjoys toying with the audience. But such jarring makes for unpredictable storytelling, so we don’t mind the movie’s griminess. You have no idea what’s going on, where this going, or how it will end.
The film features two note-worthy performances, which combined make Snowtown worth a curious viewing alone. One of them comes from Daniel Henshall, who plays the movie’s central weirdo usually with a big smirk on his face, looking a tad like a bearded Ricky Gervais. Henshall doesn’t offer up the most original presentation of disturbing oddballs, but the events he takes part in are so odd you won’t forget him anyway.
The other performance, possibly worthy of a curious viewing of Snowtown alone comes from newcomer Lucas Pittaway, who looks like a combination between Jesse Eisenberg and Nick Jonas (I’m not kidding). Pittaway doesn’t speak many words in this movie, but he’s effective, and he carries the audience with him on his journey that leaves him (and possibly us) speechless.
The disorienting instincts of Snowtown falter most when it comes to character control, as the characters that move in and out of the film, or just appear randomly, are hard to keep track of. You’re not sure everyone’s relation to one another, if they are friends, neighbors, random people, etc. This confusing element makes Snowtown a little frustrating, but offers the chance that a second viewing could make this even better.
Snowtown creates a great sense of atmosphere, and pulls you into its jarring environment. A possible sleeper hit in the making.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10