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The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

A lot of (Australian) people don't like Australian movies. This one takes us back to the glory days with a solid story, good script, characters and across-the-board acting. With the broadest part of the germ of the idea picked from Henry Lawson's short story The Drovers wife (1892), it examines the life of a woman living an isolated life with her children in Australia's Snowy Mountains while her drover husband is away with the cattle. As the layers of the story unpeel the complexity of life on the frontier are revealed. Life is hard and Purcell's character, Molly Johnson, battles to protect and provide for her kids. Reflecting Henry Lawson's drover's wife she's their protector, but this is where the stories depart. This film looks at themes and issues, as current today as they were in the 1800s. Rob Collins is great as Yadaka an aboriginal man on the run, as is Malachi Dower-Roberts who plays Molly's son, Danny. He forms a friendship with Yadaka which helps build trust between Molly and Yadaka whose back-story is interesting and central to the film. Sam Reid plays Sergeant Klintoff who's come to the high country from the UK via South Africa with his wife, Louisa (Jessica De Gouw). He's a good man with a tough job in a small settlement and a vast territory to cover. This is a movie of secrets, about heroism and toughness, and ultimately is positive. Some will say some of the issues (black/white, male/female relations) dealt with are heavy-handed, but I don't think so. It's what happened and is put together to depict the realities of life on the frontier of 'civilisation'. Some of the key points are so subtle you don't realise it's happening until the horse has bolted and destinies are set. There are gaps in the story (for example, how does a very remote place with a minute population have a resident Magistrate let alone a Judge?), but they're not serious, and at the end you're left with an overall satisfaction and in my case, a sense of optimism. Written, produced, directed and acted by Leah Purcell – big job, well done.

Duration: 109 min


IMDb: 6.4