Genre: Crime Drama
Director: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Lucas Pittaway, Bob Adriaens, Louise Harris, Daniel Henshall
Duration: 120 min.
When 16 year-old Jamie is introduced to a charismatic man, a friendship begins. As the relationship grows so does Jamie's suspicions, until he finds his world threatened by both his loyalty for, and fear of his new found father figure, John Bunting: Australia's most notorious serial killer.
Snowtown is the debut feature from Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel. Written by Shaun Grant, it is based on real life events that occured in South Australia during the 1990's known as the Snowtown murders. It premiered in the International Critic's Week section of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it received the FIPRESCI Special Mention Prize.
Starting out with a thumping industrial sounding beat, and a deceptively calm view of the Australian countryside passing by at highway speeds, even the bizarre dream described to us by the narrator does not hint at the brutal, disturbing and often very difficult to watch film that is to come. We are soon introduced to sixteen-year old Jamie Vlasskis (Lucas Pittaway), who lives in a squalid suburb of Adelaide with his single mother Elizabeth (Louise Harris) and two brothers. But it's not enough that they are poor, his mother's current boyfriend, their neighbor from across the street, is a pedophile who makes Jamie and his brothers pose naked for pictures. He is also routinely sexually abused by his older half brother Troy.
This seriously unhealthy environment sets the stage for a charismatic newcomer to come in and easily be welcomed, by Liz as a protector for her boys, and by Jamie as the strong father figure he never had. Just their luck though that this new positive influence happens to be Australia's worst serial killer, John Bunting. Gradually, the sordid character and murderous intentions of John are revealed, and helplessly we watch as Jamie is methodically groomed to follow his sinister machinations.
It's a confident and unflinching masterclass in ugliness, filled with grim lives, grim surroundings and grim deeds. A film practically un-enjoyable to behold, but so well directed, acted, and scripted, that it's impossible to turn away as the scenario unfolds with wave after wave of sickening violence and brutality. Not the kind done to shock, scare, or impress the audience, but the kind that makes you really question how and why people could do such things to each other.
Snowtown is an awful film that takes us to the darkest corners of humanity, but this is by no means a poorly made film, and I do not regret watching it. In fact, what Kurzel accomplishes here is so brilliantly powerful that it's hard not to recommend it to anyone with an open mind.
— Bonjour Tristesse