Starring: David Lyons, Emma Booth, Jason Clarks, Travis McMahan,Vince Colosimo
Runtime: 86 mins. Reviewed in Jun 2012
Filmed in outback South Australia, Craig Lahiff’s Swerve is a well-made, off-beat thriller/road movie, which in a nod towards such films as Wake in Fright and Wolf Creekcleverly conveys a sense of menace lurking beneath thebland surface of rural Australia.
David Lyons (Cactus) plays Colin, ayoung Iraq veteran driving across country to a job interview, who stops at the scene of a fatal accident where he discovers beside the body of the dead drivera suitcase crammed with money.Also involved in the accident is Jina (Emma Booth, Cloudstreet), the young woman driving the white convertible that the dead man had been trying to pass at breakneck speed.
Simon considers his options, then drives Jina home and gives the money to the police, an action which finds him suddenly embroiled against his will with gangsters and drug dealers, a hitman not unlike the Golem-like psychopath played by Javier Bardemin the Coen brother’s No Country for Old Men, and Jina, theseductivewife of the volatile local cop, Frank (Jason Clarke, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps).
Swerve has overtones of Lahiff’s earlier films Fever and Heaven’s Burning, which along with other ‘neo-noir’ thrillers such as Kiss or Kill, Boxing Dayand The Square, belongs to a distinctively Australian version of this growing genre. However, what makesSwerve distinctive and freshis the well-written script, good production values, and tight direction.
Swerve relies on well-edited camerawork to tell its story, and uses dialogue sparingly. This creates intrigue and suspense from the very beginning. The opening shots concentrate dramatically on cars swerving and being driven dangerously. This lays the foundation of the story, and cleverly reflects both the mind-set of the cars’ drivers (drug-dealers and murderers), and the film’s leitmotif, which has much to do with swerving from the moral straight and narrow, either willingly or by chance.
When Simon ponders long and hard about keeping the money himself, or turning it into the police, the audience ponders with him, and the film’s interesting irony and twist is that by virtue of Simon doing the right thing, he and the viewer are led to the ancient conclusion that we determine our own fates, and reap what we sow.
Swerve also boasts an excellent sound track composed by Australian music icon Paul Grabowsky, and excellent acting from the cast, which includes Vince Colosimo in a small role, and cameos by Chris Hayward and Roy Billing.
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