Mystery Road (2013) – MIFF Film Review



Australia  121mins

Indigenous police detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) returns the small rural Queensland town  of his past to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. He no longer fits the place he held in this society, but is unsure on how to establish himself in his new role. The town is rife with alcoholism and drugs with a small police force that can barely hold their own.

I really don’t enjoy being harsh on Australian films. I like to think that I am loyal to the local industry, although I know I do not support it nearly as much as I always intend to. But I’m not going to pretend I like a film just because it is Australian. For me, Mystery Road was underwritten, so that I felt that it was a clichéd Australian small-town cop story for the first three-quarters of the film, and then suddenly a whole lot of stuff happened that I couldn’t follow. I think I have most of the plot straight in my head after contemplating it for a long time, but am not totally sure. It had a strong sense of the mini-series or even television series. I certainly would like to see more of the character of Jay Swan, despite having not really enjoyed the film.

Both Aaron Pedersen and Hugo Weaving are fantastic in their roles (surely Weaving is one of the few actors who could make such an oddly written character work in such a successful way) but many of the rest of the cast seem to be poorly directed. I hope other people love this film a lot, but I just didn’t.

Mystery Road screens at the Forum Theatre on Friday, July 26 at 6:15pm. To book tickets, visit