Story: Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) hasn’t been back to the small town of his childhood in two decades, but he has returned, now a federal agent. But he isn’t on official business, instead he is attending the funeral of one of his old friends. The locals believe that Falk’s friend killed himself after he murdered his wife and child, a beyond horrific turn of events, even in speculation. Thanks to some rumors attached to his old friend and himself from their teen years, Falk isn’t given a warm welcome and planned to leave fast, until his friend’s parents ask him to look into the case. He is hesitant, but agrees to take a quick look, only to find more doubts around the case than he expected. Was his friend responsible for those unthinkable crimes and if not, can Falk clear his name?
Entertainment Value: The Dry is a tense, slow burn mystery that has great atmosphere, a good cast, and excellent attention to detail. The narrative is an effective one, based on Jane Harper’s book and succeeds a the difficult task of tracking not one, but two murder mysteries. As the movie progresses, both are fleshed out and while the case in the present retains the lion’s share of screen time, the past murder is given its due as well. To weave the cases together and keep us intrigued as to how each will pan out couldn’t have been easy, but The Dry makes it work. The film runs just under two hours, but runs at a good pace, even with the slow burn, character driven approach. I don’t think there’s much filler here at all and the movie manages to craft such tense atmosphere, especially when it pulls back to show us how desolate and barren the environment has become. The Dry is always believable and grounded, though there is one character that resembles Austin Powers, which made me chuckle now and again when he’s on screen. In the end The Dry is a tight, well crafted murder mystery that hits all the right notes and earns a high recommendation.
The performances in The Dry are impressive, especially the core cast members and Eric Bana, who really shines in the lead role here. Bana is all about controlled emotion in this one, bringing across a deep introspective approach to his character, which then bolsters the need to pursue the truth and put the ills of the past and present behind. Being able to portray inner turmoil is a tough task, but Bana really nails the role and commands the screen, in a strong and memorable effort. I appreciated how he was a federal agent, but didn’t use those credentials to navigate the investigations, instead he did so from a personal approach. That choice allows Bana to interact in different ways than an official agent would, which again adds to the deeply personal angle of the storylines here. John Polson is the aforementioned actor who looks kind of like Austin Powers thanks to his look in The Dry, which was humorous at times, but never distracts from the experience. The cast also includes Bruce Spence, Genevieve O’Reilly, Julia Blake, and Keir O’Donnell.
The Disc: IFC Films released The Dry on Blu-ray, with a razor sharp, crystal clear visual presentation that was a pleasure to watch. The rugged landscapes look incredible here, but even routine dialogue driven scenes sparkle thanks to the wealth of depth and detail. The colors skew toward the earth tones, as intended, while contrast is spot on throughout. Not much else we could ask from this treatment, as the movie looks excellent. The extras include a host of brief, but informative featurettes that total for about twenty minutes of runtime.