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Sweet Country - Film Review

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by Jonathon Tonkin (subscribe)
I'm a 26 year old male Senior Reporter for Weekend Notes. I Graduated from A Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Communication) at UniSA in 2014. As well as writing for WN I have also done pieces for the Adelaide 36s and Mawson Lakes Living.
Published January 31st 2018
A unique take on a western in Australia
Warwick Thornton is a director who has been building from strength to strength for some time now. Not wanting to be held down to a particular genre, he has explored modern-day love stories, musical comedy-dramas and in his latest offering. Thornton is taking on the arena of Australian westerns.

Sweet Country, Warwick Thornton, Australian Cinema, Film Review
In cinemas everywhere now!


Sweet Country is his latest venture into a new landscape of film. This film is a true mixing pot of theme, genre and culture. The culture and history of outback Australia and Indigenous Australians is combined with themes of persecution, violence and the harsh existence of the Australian outback. This is an unmistakably Australian spin on the well-established western genre and it is a breath of fresh air.

Sweet Country follows the plight of indigenous couple, Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris) and Lizzie (Natassia Gorey-Furber), as they get mixed up with a new neighbour, Harry Marsh (Ewen Leslie), a war veteran with drinking and anger problems.

A violent misunderstanding ends up with Sam shooting Harry in self-defence. Knowing the consequences and stigma of an Aboriginal shooting a "whitefella", Sam and Lizzie go on the run. It then falls to Police Sergeant Fletcher (Bryan Brown) and Sam's friend, Fred Smith (Sam Neill) to track Sam down and find out what happened.



This film is the successful collaboration of one of Australia's leading filmmakers, as well as a collection of talent new and old. Sam Neill and Bryan Brown make up a great veteran duo of talent that contrast against each other in poignant ways. Creating two solid substantial characters.

Newcomer Hamilton Morris creates a breakout performance as Sam Kelly. Thornton has said that he prefers to use indigenous actors from the area he's filming in to create authenticity. It's because of this that you get to see amazing and fresh actors pull off such powerful and emotional performances. It is a testament to the exceptional directorial abilities of Thornton, as well as the natural talents present in the Aboriginal community.

Sweet Country, Warwick Thornton, Australian Cinema, Film Review
Director Warwick Thornton on set.


This all comes together to create a film that puts an Australian spin on a traditional western, while creating a story that is a captivating and passionate look at life in 1929 Northern Territory. The film looks at the persecution and attitudes of the time (which are still relevant today), as well as the change and hope that is still occurring. It highlights the anger and injustice towards the Aboriginal people and the violence that occurred as a result. Thornton has also presented this movie in such a way that purposely hints at what will happen at the end, only to throw you off. This is a really interesting editing and storytelling technique and is definitely worth an experience.

Sweet Country is in cinemas now. Go see it as soon as you can and support unique and innovative Australian Cinema.
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