Matt Nettheim
Lisa Schwarzbaum
April 18, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Jindabyne

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
123 minutes
Limited Release Date
04/27/07
performer
Gabriel Byrne, Laura Linney, John Howard
director
Ray Lawrence
distributor
Sony Pictures Classics
author
Raymond Carver, Beatrix Christian
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an B

Readers of Raymond Carver short stories and fans of Robert Altman’s Short Cuts will find the core of Jindabyne familiar: Buddies on a fishing holiday find the dead body of a woman in the river and finish their trip before contacting the police, to the particular outrage of one fisherman’s wife. In relocating Carver’s spare morality tale ”So Much Water So Close to Home” to director Ray Lawrence’s (Lantana) homeland of Australia, he and screenwriter Beatrix Christian have upped the moral stakes precariously by adding racism into the reckoning — the dead woman is aboriginal, the men white.

That’s a lot to take on, mixed in with issues of abortion, mental illness, religious faith, and communal psychology. (There’s also the creepy horror-flick presence of a Scary Psycho in a Truck Who Kills Women Driving Alone.) And Jindabyne — named for the lakeside town in which the troubles spill — can’t contain all that the filmmakers want to throw in. Best to keep glued to the taut performance by Laura Linney as Claire, wife of one of the fishermen (Gabriel Byrne) and a woman moved to dramatic acts of atonement.

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