Hugo weaves his magic

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - Now show­ing State Cin­ema Now show­ing Vil­lage and State cin­e­mas


Good be­hav­iour for the past four of his 18 years in the slam­mer has earned him a move to a min­i­mum- se­cu­rity fa­cil­ity up- coun­try.

De­signed to be a work­ing farm, the property is still very much a jail, with all the same ri­val­ries, ten­sions and mind games that play them­selves out in more tra­di­tional in­car­cer­a­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

Vik­tor’s ar­rival at the farm – which has sev­eral in­mates and of­fi­cers im­me­di­ately on edge – co­in­cides with the in­tro­duc­tion of a new re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram driven by wildlife of­fi­cers in the re­gion.

Birds that are in­jured in the sur­round­ing forests are taken to a spe­cial unit, where pris­on­ers nurse the stricken pa­tients un­til they are ready for re­lease back into the wild.

Vik­tor takes to the ini­tia­tive with the same sin­gle- minded in­ten­sity that has char­ac­terised his marathon spell be­hind bars.

How­ever, his case of­fi­cer Matt ( Weav­ing) de­tects hope for the lost cause on his books.

There is a sub­tle ten­der­ness and deep em­pa­thy to Vik­tor’s han­dling of his feath­ered friends, hint­ing there could be more to this mys­te­ri­ous man than a down­cast ex­pres­sion and a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion.

While the al­le­gor­i­cal link be­tween wounded birds and so­cial out­casts is ob­vi­ous, wri­ter­di­rec­tor Craig Mon­a­han and his co- scripter Ali­son Nis­selle re­sist the temp­ta­tion to re­lay the mes­sage to view­ers in big, bold cap­i­tal letters.

It’s the small de­tails lodged within the fine print of their screen­play that earns Heal­ing ev­ery bit of re­spect, ad­mi­ra­tion and in­volve­ment surely com­ing its way.

The ex­am­ple set by Weav­ing and Hany at the fore­front of pro­ceed­ings is fol­lowed by an ex­cel­lent sup­port­ing cast which in­cludes Tony Martin, Xavier Sa­muel, Anthony Hayes and Jane Menelaus.

The beau­ti­ful cine­matog­ra­phy of Os­car­win­ner Andrew Les­nie ( The Lord of the Rings) seals the deal for Heal­ing in em­phatic fash­ion, par­tic­u­larly those cru­cial scenes where the birds must in­ter­act with their hu­man co- stars.

As both di­rec­tor and writer, Favreau clearly knows his way around a kitchen. The many scenes of fi­nessed food- prep un­der pres­sure – par­tic­u­larly once Carl re­dis­cov­ers his love of Cuban street cui­sine – are ex­e­cuted to per­fec­tion. The ban­ter be­tween those turn­ing up the heat on Carl and those chow­ing down on his cre­ations is loose, lively and un­forced.

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