Australia have produced more than its fair share of famous actors over the last few decades. Cate Blanchett, Mia Wasikowska, Naomi Watts, Mel Gibson, Guy Pearce, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Geoffrey Rush, Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth are all firmly established in Hollywood. Behind the camera there’s a similar story. Baz Luhrmann, James Wan, Peter Weir, George Miller, Alex Proyas and PJ Hogan have all had a string of successes.
The Turning is essentially the great Australian film showcase. Based on a celebrated book of short stories by Tim Winton, 18 different directors were charged with producing the 17 segments, which despite having a central character and vague narrative flow, are all self-contained entities. For the UK theatrical release, the numbers of stories is down to 9. All the tales are based around Winton’s experience of growing up, and based in a small coastal community.
Whilst Winton’s book had a central plot-line, the theatrical cut of The Turning loses much of this due to its truncation. Each portion had a separate creative team, so multiple actors play the same character. This can prove slightly confusing, if you realise at all. . Chronologically, it’s all over the shop as well. Whilst this should be a distraction it actually works in The Turning’s favour; adding a poetical and spiritual feeling to the entire piece. There are several prevailing themes: regret, addiction, isolation, faith and renewal.
As a whole, it’s incredibly successful. There are a couple of stories which don’t entirely hit the mark but The Turning works as individual tales and as part of an overarching narrative. Justin Kurzel’s (Snowtown) Boner McPharlin’s Moll and Simon Stone’s Reunion are the best segments from established directors. There are also impressive directorial débuts from Mia Wasikowska and David Wenham. In front of the camera, Rose Byrne and Hugo Weaving shine. Australian cinema is thriving at the moment, and the Turning illustrates the sheer depth of talent.
The Turning is out in selected cinemas today