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Australia 1996
Directed by
Nick Parsons
103 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Dead Heart

As a crime drama Dead Heart works well, with an intense performance by Bryan Brown in a role which recalls the moral dilemmae of his Captain Cooper in Blood Oath plays a tough, pragmatic but well-intentioned cop in charge of the Aboriginal settlement,Wala Wala, where he is one of only seven whites  Set in the red-rock desert west of Alice Springs, the story unfolds as single flashback as told by the Aboriginal elder, Poppy, who is fiercely opposed to the white man's way and particularly as it is embodied by Sgt. Lorkin (Brown).

Adapted by Parsons from his own stage play, the view of Aboriginal/Anglo-Australian relations is certainly not optimistic with the whites being variously misguided, patronizing, racist or just out-of-their-depth in dealing with the radically different Aboriginal perception and moral ordering of the world.

Whilst this basic, slightly didactic, opposition may have worked well in the abstracted environment of the stage in the more naturalistic environment of the cinema, although its broad strokes, indicated by the title, are effective, and one assumes it has some kind of evidential basis, it is less convincing because of its use of more typically sensationalist American devices particularly in its portrayal of Brown's character as a lawman and the relationship between the white woman (Angie Milliken) and her (good-looking) Aboriginal lover. Thus the desecration of the sacred ground seems overstated, the sequence recalling Coppola's famous christening sequence in The Godfather whilst the television camera crew is an intrusive plot device recalling Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers).




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