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  • Nate Lemann


Updated: Jul 16

Robert Connolly’s Australian mystery thriller got lost in the shuffle during the COVID years and that is truly a shame because he basically set the stage here for Australia’s own pulp detective series, with a terrific Eric Bana at its center.

by Nate Lemann

Eric Bana and Keir O'Donnell in "The Dry"
Eric Bana and Keir O'Donnell in "The Dry"

As we can observe from the opening frames of Robert Connolly’s 2021 “The Dry”, we are in the hands of a true filmmaker, observing the harsh beauty of the drought stricken Outback. These haunting images turn to true horror as we can hear the ominous cries of a young baby and are then taken to the scene of a grisly crime that gets the ball rolling for this dark mystery thriller.

We then cut to Aaron Falk in Melbourne. He is a celebrated and famed detective, having been in the news recently for a major solve that has made him a household across the country. He is soon called home to attend the funeral of a close childhood friend…but it is anything but simple: it is believed that his friend murdered his wife and young son, sparing his newborn before driving out to a dried up lake to take his own life. You see, this town is undergoing a very harsh drought that has left crops to dwindle and water tainted. Many believe the harsh conditions and failing farm caused Faulk’s friend to snap, but his friend’s parents feel that just couldn’t be possible and plead with Faulk to stay a bit longer to look into the case.

That is anything but a simple request as Faulk has a very tough history in this town: in his youth, Faulk and his group of friends were involved in a mysterious death that left most of the town to scapegoat Faulk for that tragedy, which eventually caused him and his father to flee. Returning home now and poking around in the town’s secrets will be quite challenging. As he starts to probe deeper, he begins to find that both this recent case and the one haunting him from his past have many more layers than most realized. 

The cast is pretty terrific, boasting a great ensemble of “that guy” character actors from Down Under. Matt Nable plays a great shitheel who has a very complicated past with Faulk and a real dark side. James Frenchville is very solid as always, playing a stoic fellow farmer/firefighter who is clearly hiding something. Genevieve O’Reilly (who many will know as Mon Mothma from the Star Wars universe) plays an old friend of Faulk’s, and maybe the only welcome face in town. Keir O’Donnell plays a wet behind his ears police Sgt. who welcomes the help of the more experienced Faulk.

All that said, this story rests on the shoulders of Eric Bana and he ably takes on the tall task. We see him wrestle greatly with both his past and the horrible case in front of him. He plays Faulk with equal measures of compassion and remorse but also a deep well of clinical investigative prowess that makes him a thorn in the side of many a suspicious character. The town is hostile and not just because of their past with Faulk: we are watching what it looks like when a small town is on the verge of collapse due to the harsh landscape of the Outback. It makes for an engrossing and compelling dynamic.

The script does a great job weaving together these two mysteries 20 years apart. We feel the deep pain the past has weighed on all involved but also how it may have colored others perceptions of what has happened in so recently. It’s a novel-like structure and could have been fraught task in lesser hands but is nailed down pretty perfectly here. “The Dry” won’t rewrite any old detective drama tropes but it very competently delivers a hard-boiled yarn that will keep you guessing until the very end. 


FINAL RATING: 4/5 (Great mystery thriller to curl up an watch on a weekend)

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Hi! I'm Nate and I love to talk all things movies. I'll be posting new reviews, recent rewatches, and much more on this site. So come on and let's talk movies! 

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