Jindabyne - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Jindabyne Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 27, 2009
This is a difficult movie to watch. Understanding Stewart's and Claire's relationship isn't easy. The story is not really about the girl's murder, yet we keep seeing the murderer weave in and out of the movie. I will have to watch it a second time to try to understand it

I thought I had seen this movie before, but it was part of the movie 'Short Cuts' I remembered (based on the same short story by Raymond Carver).
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2008
here is a case of an intimate film that tries to encompass too much.
A simple morality tale; of not doing what society will have you believe to be the "right thing" and the conseqences of not only your actions, but the mores society places on you.

The film attempts to instill a sense of displacement; all of the charactors are trying to make the best of things, even though they are clinging to symbolic gestures and icons of attachment to time, place, and the people around them. In truth, an almost existential tone pervades this effort, and as such, it could have held its ground; but the spiritual overtones are devisive and distracting.

The impetus of the film comes from four fishing buddies who discover a recently dead body while on their much anticipated yearly fishing trip. Rather than make the day hike out of the canyon to report the body, they spend the weekend as they normally would, and only report the incident after leaving at their normal time.

The truth eventually comes out and the community and family are outraged by their callous insensitivity; ignoring that the girl was already dead so it would make no difference to her (and in such a remote location it wasn't as if the delay would have made any difference in potentially catching the killer - and at this point no-one has any idea of how she died).

The fisherman believe they've done enough by simply tying her to a tree limb so her body wouldn't float downstream and over a waterfall, and it is ironic that this bow to "humanity" leads to the discovery of their "insensitivity" and sets off a chain reaction of hate.

Of course the real issue is that the dead girl was an Aboriginie, so their neglect appears to be racial (when it was really just a snap reaction to having to waste their only time off in order to report their findings).

Laura Linney, as one of the wives of the fisherman, then goes on a Quixonic quest to appease her own sense of self as much as appeasing the Aboriginal population. This takes her to the Aboriginal "funeral", a sequence that goes on way too long and is ackward - perhaps by intention.

The undercurrent to all this surface action is the sense of disenfrancisement - even the city itself, Jindabyne, was moved from its original location because it was in the way of a new reservoir. There are plenty of scenes of the children facing the dangers of the unknown swimming and playing in and around the reservoir, many of which seem to interupt the narrative, and serving the sole purpose of reminding the viewer that we're all just fish out of water.

I admire the vision, but felt that the execution could have been tighter.
Super Reviewer
½ December 23, 2007
Beautifully shot outback drama which captures the countryside in all its glory. Unfortunately the plot meanders on for way too long and even Laura Linney can't sustain your interest.
Super Reviewer
½ November 28, 2007
Jindabyne is overstuffed with far too many small, great stories. It would have done best putting the primary focus on Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne's tumultuous marriage, but instead we get subplots about aboriginal racism, serial killers, fishing, and evil little children. Not that any of those would make for a particularly bad movie (except for fishing - but in this context it works), but they all seem to be fighting for a moment in the sun when they would have best served their purpose as dramatic devices. Jindabyne's just a case of one film trying to be too much.

It really is a shame, because there is so much to enjoy about what we get here. Linney is stunning as always, and Byrne is frigid and remarkable; all the other performances are equally resonant. The movie itself is eerie and almost moribund; its atmosphere is great. A subtle, haunting score and the plains of Australia create a very strong impression, whether you want them to or not.

It's not that this is a bad movie - quite the contrary - but it's a brazen waste of potential. With a more judicious editor and a pared-down script, this could be Oscar-winning fare. In its current form, it makes for a good solid dramatic mystery and little else.
Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2007
Pretty good Flix, good for a weekend with nothing to do. Its Australlian, a little slow. Worth the rent.
Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2007
Tensions in an Australian small town community escalate when four friends discover a dead body on a fishing trip. Slow psycho-drama.
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2007
Brilliant drama about a murder and a marriage. Laura Linney is the best performance in this film that gives great courage.
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2009
What do you do when you discover that the man you thought you knew and loved is not guided by the same moral compass as you? What if your mental stability is questioned because of a previous bout with severe post-partum depression? How do you engage your significant other and get him to explain his actions to you? That, in a nutshell, is Jindabyne. Claire (Laura Linney) is trying to understand how Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) and his buddies could blythely go on fishing with the dead body of a young woman tethered in the stream. The interplay between these two characters, their friends, and their disapproving neighbors form the core of this highly emotional film. A subtext concerns the man who killed the girl and may be a serial killer. This subtext, however, was kept on the very fringe. The real meat of the film was in Stewart's inability to admit to any wrongdoing and Claire's need to atone for what she perceived was a great moral failure. Interesting interaction with the aboriginal culture and a taste of the racial tension that exists in the land down under. Great cast, heartbreaking story, starkly beautiful scenery, and a couple of heartpounding moments combine to make this a winner that is still, at times, tough to watch.
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2008
[font=Century Gothic]"Jindabyne," based on the same Raymond Carver story that formed part of Robert Altman's "Short Cuts," is a frustrating attempt to stretch it to a full-length movie, setting it in a resort town in Australia. In this case the body belongs to Susan Cooper(Tatea Reilly), a young Aboriginal woman who disappeared on her way to a music festival. Her body is discovered by Stewart Kane(Gabriel Byrne), a white mechanic on a fishing trip with three buddies, whose American wife, Claire(Laura Linney, excellent again), has been suffering from nausea, hoping that she is pregnant, because the alternative is too horrifying to contemplate.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]The major problem with "Jindabyne" is not with the leisurely pacing(which does allow time to capture the beautiful Australian countryside wonderfully). It is in how the movie is constructed, giving too much time to establish how much of an outsider Claire is.(Personally, I don't blame her for being alarmed that her son brought a knife to school. And I find all children to be a little creepy but that little girl takes the cake.) More time should have been spent at the fishing party, just enough to draw out the horror while revealing less about Susan's killer which should have been left more of a mystery. And the ending is particularly weak.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]What would have been interesting is if one half of the movie had been spent with the Kanes, and the other half with the Coopers, which would have provided more of a dialogue on racism instead of the usual language of denunciation that we are already so used to hearing. What the movie is concerned with is how the everyday lies we tell separate us from not only our loved ones but also men from women and people of different skin color into different camps. [/font]
Super Reviewer
½ December 15, 2007
If I had to use one word about the film it would be disturbing.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2007
Callous decision divides family, friends, community in decent Aussie drama.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2006
An incredibly moving poignant picture. Stunning performances from Linney and Byrne and brilliant direction from Lawrence send this drama into excellence. The plot itself isn't fully realised, but the message is crystal clear. Highly recommended.
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2008
I understand why people find Jindabyne intriguing, but I thought that the story was slow and boring. It's realistic though, and I usually like that, but I didn't like that they were over dramatizing everything. The ending was very weak as well. So despite strong performances from Linney and Byrne I can't give it a higher grade than 2/5.
Super Reviewer
April 13, 2007
Well acted and thought-provoking. I've come to like Laura Linney. I find she brings depth to her characters. Some have said the ending left them feeling empty, but I thought the ending was perfect. See it. It has a very original quality to it.
June 12, 2012
A bit busy, but some nice acting. Liked the bit with the killer; the troubled granddaughter character, unsure of what that was about. Byrne and Linney are generally pretty good.
January 22, 2009
basically after a fishing trip turns into a crime scene...they decide that a dead body isn't going anyway..so they continue to fish and not get help. after one guy molests the dead girl he goes home to finger his wife(i don't know if he washed the dead off his hand). the town is pissed that they fished in the dead person water..i wouldn't wanna eat that fish.. also the end pissed me off! also the killer in the beginning...is creepy,
December 13, 2008
An interesting film, but perhaps a bit on the longish side. Linney is wonderful, but I found Byrne a bit of a disappointment. Overall the film just felt a bit too simple in its portrayal of the conflicts within the community.
December 13, 2015
In the mood for a good Australian film, Jindabyne came along and caught my attention

Jindabyne has a story which seems more important for context than narrative. It shows how residents of Jindabyne react as the community faces a mysterious death and precisely what that means for a remote Australian town. Yet since there is no real-life historical context of the story, it would need to balance context with characters to work to maximum effect. Although there is the potential to explore characters, the film just skims the surface of everything and oscillates between a large quantity of slow-moving sequences where little happens aside from what is left to the implications and the occasional point in time where the characters actually have something to do or say. Viewers who are not completely hypnotized by the film's style or caught up in its atmospheric storytelling will realize that there is a lot of waiting around to do in the experience of watching Jindabyne, and even though I can appreciate the former I still feel that the latter is ultimately of far more prominence throughout the film. It is a feature which really stretches on, and by the end of 123 minute running time I had a feeling that it had stretched on for quite a bit longer even though in actuality there was little that had happened. I felt unfulfilled by the lack of narrative in Jindabyne and that there was honestly not enough Aussie charm for its reliance on context to actually do anything of major benefit to the production.
However, that's not to say that audiences do not get an interesting ride out of the feature. Viewers are given a sense that they are actually in Jindabyne because the land depicted mirrors the atmospheric experience of the film. With an extensive use of silence in lieu of a musical score most of the time, viewers are given a feeling of empty isolation from the rest of the world. Though the story itself may not be top notch, the overall way that director Ray Lawrence handles the atmosphere and visual style of the film effectively boosts its credibility and ensures that it succeeds as a sporadically stirring piece at the least. The visual style of Jindabyne is excellent. Though the Australian scenery has a natural beauty to it, it is captured with a very bleak colour scheme. The land is seemingly baron and crawling with death, be it the excess of growth or the dry sanctions. Yet at the same time the growth itself and the running water give it a feeling of life. Since the subject matter of the film touches upon the concept of life and death, it is really able to find a solace of support within the context of its style. This might prove enough for some viewers, and though it wasn't enough for me I can certainly admire what it achieved.
The cinematography and its convergence with the land it captures ultimately gives Jindabyne a western feeling, and considering the blunt nihilism in the story it can be argued that the film is a postmodern western without much of the typical iconography of the genre. As a fan of westerns, I definitely got a kick out of the stylish, atmospheric experience of Jindabyne and found that it helped to justify the slow-moving nature of the story in certain parts, even though it was ultimately rudimentary as a whole.
And the most human aspect of Jindabyne is the presence of a talented cast of international actors.
Gabriel Byrne gives his finest leading performance in years. The actor who has passed the years of his Hollywood glory reaches out to an Aussie crowd in Jindabyne and it pays off. For me it is unsurprising as I have long respected his talents as an actor, and it is also all the more welcome that I got to witness them in proper form once again. In Jindabyne, the man is left with material which demands his finest talents if it is to elevate the film above it less-than-stellar elements overall, and he has no problem ensuring that he delivers all he can. As an Irishman in an Australian setting, Gabriel Byrne conveys both a feeling that he blends in with the life around him and also a sense that he is indifferent to it, creating an effective balance to match the story. Gabriel Byrne has a certain sense of unpredictability about him, and he has some moments where his dramatic flair really takes off and steals the attention of viewers with tenacious brilliance. He is very clearly the standout of the cast, and his greatest scenes are the most memorable aspects of Jindabyne outside of its more style-focused aspects.
Laura Linney is also a rich presence. What she contributes to Jindabyne is a very powerful tenacity over her character as Claire is a vulnerable mother haunted by her past. The entire time throughout the film you can see Laura Linney is lost in the mind of the character because she cannot escape thoughts that are haunting her, and that conveys a sense of weakness at times. And when she has to step up and bring raw dramatic tension to the role, the result is made all the more effective by the contrast as the results prove to be very strong moments of dramatic flair. Laura Linney makes a strong case in Jindabyne, and her chemistry with Gabriel Byrne is terrific.
Deborra-Lee Furness remains a consistently engaging presence whenever she is on screen due to her ability to let the script flow into her mind and out of her mouth organically. John Howard is also welcome as he is in any Australian film.

So Jindabyne is a very atmospheric experience which uses its on-location Australian setting as the front for a very stylish feature which is rich in atmosphere and strong peformances, but beneath Ray Lawrence's ability to draw viewers in is a failure to keep them engaged due to a story which is short on development or plot dynamics in general.
May 20, 2015
So many interesting themes, images and ideas presented here. The closeness of death is always present--the murder and the body, the pretend drowning and then almost drowning of the children, Caylin-Calandria's mother, Claire's close call with the murderer. The image of female bodies in the water-the murdered girl, Claire, Caylin-Calandria, and Claire. The children are also obsessed with the drowned town beneath the water. The sense of alienation is another theme--the alienation of the aborigines from the whites in Australia, the sense of separation of Claire from everyone, even her husband and child, whom she left after his birth for 18 months, the children grounded for misbehavior, the men taking themselves off to fish and, of course, the shunning of the men who left the murdered girl in the water while they fished. In the end it is the final dealing with the body and the spirit of the dead girl that brings them all together.
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