One man’s story
CHARLIE’S COUNTRY ( M)
Director: Rolf de Heer ( Ten Canoes) Stars: David Gulpilil, Luke Ford, Peter Djigirr
THIS stark, affecting homegrown drama is a passion project for longtime collaborators David Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer.
Not a second is spared for self- indulgence. However, there is an element of selfpreservation to the entire production.
Particularly for the great Gulpilil, one of our nation’s most uniquely gifted actors for more than four decades.
During a troubled personal period that saw Gulpilil end up behind bars, the decorated director de Heer ( The Tracker) persuaded his friend to channel his creative energies into a story worthy of fi lming. Gulpilil’s intense and intriguing response is
Charlie’s Country, a partially autobiographical yarn about an indigenous man facing a personal crisis relatively late in life.
Charlie ( Gulpilil) is getting on a bit, and the rules of life in a small outback town are getting on his nerves.
The “bush blackfella” in Charlie is calling him back to the land and Charlie reckons he is ready for a return to the ways he once knew.
Sadly, the roots Charlie is looking to reclaim are much tougher to dig up than fi rst thought. Some of his old skills are still there, but due to fl uctuating health, Charlie’s reserves of resilience are dangerously low.
As director, de Heer is careful not to alter the unusual beats and enigmatic shifts in mood that defi ne Gulpilil as a storyteller.
Indeed, there are several stretches where Gulpilil is clearly calling the shots from in front of the camera, simply by inhabiting Charlie with a pure, persuasive vigour.
Just as a wily sense of humour can suddenly come to the fore, so too can a feeling of wry resignation that Charlie and his country are living in worlds drifting wider apart.
There is no point in trying to fi nd the point where the real Gulpilil ends, and the character of Charlie begins.
The actor keeps shifting it as he pleases, often astonishingly so ( a feat which recently landed Gulpilil a prestigious best actor win at the Cannes Film Festival).
Now showing State Cinema