The infamous holiday may be politically charged, and the film is too to a certain extent, but Australia Day (the movie now, not the holiday) isn’t necessarily about what one would expect. It doesn’t try giving justification to the holiday, nor does it disown it. It uses it as a thematic link to the film’s interoperation of modern Australia. The film could take place on any day of the year and remain the same, but why bother? It’s a racially charged, deeply stirring movie that webs together a series of narratives into a controversial depiction of the modern world. The good, the bad and the ugly are all present. This is Australia at its darkest, all without killer spiders and serial killers wandering through the desert.
There’s a story of human trafficking and sex slavery, a hit and run, and a kidnapping scenario. Talents both new and old take centre stage in this relentlessly truthful painting of racial tension that’s deep in characterization and unexpected all the way through. The plot bounces from scene to scene, and often the transitions can be jarring or over-plotted, but it’s jam packed with rich story that’s impactful in every sense of the word. A key message of hope within future generations is hammered in well, ending on an emotional finale that smoothens out the story and ties all loose ends together. Well, most of them anyway.
Australia Day is a film full of social awareness. It’s a commentary on everybody who lives here, and the way our nationality is perceived, but in raising its many problems with our country, it forgets to hint at a solution. We get it, Australians have done some bad things, but what are you trying to say? Stephen M. Irwin’s screenplay is excellent, but lacks answers to its problems. He struggles to do more than just point out the obvious and showcase it through a brutal story. It works in a lot of regards, but needs a bit more bite. Still, the talent behind it is extraordinary, and they give it their all.
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