Hugo weaves his magic
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.