An athology of short films surrounding the Lang family. A family made up of the father Bob (played by Hugo Weaving and Dean Daley-Jones, mother Carol (Susie Porter, Di Adams and Robyn Nevin), son Vic (Joseph Pedley, Dougie Baldwin, Harrison Gilbertson, Matthew Shanley, Richard Roxburgh, Josh McConville, Casey Douglas and Dan Wyllie) and Vic’s wife Gail (Libby Tanner, Cate Blanchett and Kate Mulvaney).
Also thrown into the mix is a few films about a young Aboriginal character named Max (Matt Nable, Jarli-Russell Blanco and Wayne Blair) and his brother Frank (Jakory Blanco and Meyne Wyatt).
To hear all the buzz around new Australian film “The Turning” you could be forgiven for thinking that this is going to be the cinematic experience of a lifetime. There seems to be no holds barred with this film, when somebody purchases a ticket to see the film they are handed a nice keepsake, a delightfully presented glossy book that ‘celebrates’ the film’s release. But the problem with “The Turning” lays with one of the reasons why this book has to be made available… and that’s because the film is so confusing without it.
“The Turning” is actually an anthology of short films all based on short stories from legendary Australian writer, Tim Winton. The idea was the brainchild of Australian film director Robert Connolly and to make the short films he has brought together some of Australia’s most skilled film directors including the award-winning Warwick Thornton and Jonathan auf der Heide, while actors Mia Wasikowska and David Wenham also try their hand at directing as well.
It is a noble idea and despite some of the short films being standouts it is a hard watch for the audience, especially if they are hoping to keep a handle on what is happening. Firstly the films centering around Max and Frank needed to be discarded along the way, it is hard enough to follow the stories of the Lang family without having characters thrown in there that have absolutely nothing to do with them – having said that the film in which Frank is playing AFL football for the Sydney Swans, “Family”, is one of the best films of the anthology.
Generally most of the short films are well shot but too many of them seem to tell the same story just with a different script, while the alternative dance piece film, “Immunity”, that pops up during “The Turning” certainly seems out of place. The annoying thing about “The Turning” is that while some of the films are extremely good they just don’t gel all together. The fact that the characters are played by a string of different actors makes the film not only hard to watch but also means at times the audience is left all at sea as they can’t follow the stories or even work out who is who.
When it comes to the acting performances some are better than others. As you would expect Hugo Weaving steals the show with his portrayal of the older Bob Lang. Libby Tanner, Cate Blanchett, Susie Porter and Dan Wyllie also put in memorable performances while young Meyne Wyatt really announces himself as an actor with talent as he portrays the AFL playing Meyne Wyatt.
There is no doubt that Tim Winton’s Lang Family would make a great film subject, but in order to do so “The Turning” would have been better if it was a linear film that followed the family in such a way that each character could be played by one actor. As is “The Turning” looks great and is a celebration of the fine directors that call Australia home but as a story the film ends up being a complete incomprehensible mess.
Directors: Jonathan auf der Heide, Tony Ayres, Jub Clerc, Robert Connolly, Shaun Gladwell, Rhys Graham, Justin Kurzel, Yaron Lifschitz, Anthony Lucas, Claire McCarthy, Ian Meadows, Ashlee Page, Stephen Page, Simon Stone, Warwick Thornton, Marieka Walsh, Mia Wasikowska, David Wenham
Starring: Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne
Running Time: 180 minutes
Release Date: 6 Febuary 2015