This powerful film is about prison officer Matt Perry (wonderfully played by Hugo Weaving) and the prisoners he appoints to be in charge of a birds-of-prey project at a low-security facility in the country.
Don Hany (best known for his television work in Serangoon Road, Offspring and Underbelly) is perfect as Viktor Khadem, an Iranian who appears a broken man after 18 years in jail for murder. However, his relationship with the birds – a majestic wedgetail eagle named Yasmin, in particular – changes him and sets him on the path of redemption.
Through their work with the birds, these prisoners open up and begin to move on in their lives. Perry comes to the project with as much baggage as the inmates and subsequently ends up being changed in similar ways.
The close-ups of the birds are absolutely spell-binding and the surroundings in rural Victoria are stunning.
This collaboration between director Craig Monahan (who also directed the interesting The Interview) and Academy Award-winning cinematographer Andrew Lesley (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) makes for fascinating viewing. Where this film could easily have stayed superficial or strayed into clichéd territory, it manages to build up the characters up, trusting the audience to stay for the ride. It is a delight to behold.
The unusual subject matter, the realistic and at times humorous dialogue (which gives the film a distinctly Australian flavour), and strong performances from Hany and Weaving indicate Healing might become the Australian blockbuster of the year
It is without a doubt the best Australian film I have seen for years.
More InDaily film reviews:
Spanish Film Festival: Living is Easy with Eyes Closed
The Other Woman
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Invisible Woman
Like Father, Like Son
Any Day Now
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Half of a Yellow Sun
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