The Dry Review

The Dry
  • Directing8.5
  • Writing8.5
  • Acting8.5

Robert Connolly's The Dry is a seedy Outback thriller that unravels with steady build up and a satisfying climax. Eric Bana gives a fantastic performance, layered with guilt and nuance. The Dry is one of the better movies of this year that nobody is talking about.

Eric Bana stars in Robert Connolly‘s The Dry, an effective murder-mystery tale set against the backdrop of a barren Australian town. Bana’s leading performance is a reminder of the actor’s talent, while Connolly’s direction paints an unsettling tale in a unique setting. The film’s writing manages to keep you guessing until the very end, dropping subtle hints as the story unfolds to its eventual climax. The Dry is currently in a limited run theatrical release, as well as available for rent on-demand in the comfort of your own home.

Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) is called back to his hometown for the funeral of one of his best friends from his teenage years. The problem is that his former best friend is dead because of a murder-suicide in which he allegedly killed his wife, his child and then himself, leaving only his infant baby left amongst the bloody mess of a crime scene.

Now that Aaron is back in town, old town secrets are starting to swirl as a childhood friend was found dead in the river, with only Aaron and this same best friend to blame, despite never being proven to be guilty.

Robert Connolly‘s The Dry is a seedy little Outback thriller that’s written with sharp attention to detail, allowing the story and the characters to progress in an organic fashion that builds on tension and never spoils reveal. Connolly shares a writers credit with Harry Cripps, based on a novel by Jane Harper, plus “additional writing” credit given to Samantha Strauss. And between the lot of them, The Dry succeeds as a dark and moody drama set against a barren Australian town.

And it is this town and the flow of water that moves through it that brings forth some hefty subtext. During the film’s flashbacks to the characters’ teenage days, the rivers and lakes are full of beautiful blue water as the innocence of their youth has yet to be corrupted. But now, years later, Aaron returns to a town that hasn’t seen rain in over a year. It’s almost as if this town is slowly rotting after the death of a teenager girl and now additional deaths only continue to keep out any sort of hope for a fruitful future.

Much like the characters are jaded and full of regret, the water is now nasty and orange-colored, providing an aftertaste that just can’t be rinsed out or completely cleansed.

This sort of attention to detail is what makes The Dry an excellent murder-mystery that knows how important its setting is as it makes for a well-rounded story that skips not a single beat.

Eric Bana‘s performance as Aaron is initially confident, if not a bit subdued as he returns to a town that isn’t exactly throwing him a welcoming party, yet you don’t quite know what happened or made him leave in the first place. As we discover his past and present more, the answers start coming and everything starts adding up. And Bana reacts accordingly, expressing a wide range of emotions as Aaron starts adding things up and figuring out just what really happened. I’ll admit, I don’t recall the last time I’ve seen Bana this engaged with a film. I’ve always enjoyed his presence in various movies over the years, but The Dry was one of the first films that I said to myself, “woah, he is absolutely taking control of this movie.”

The Dry peels back its layers with appropriate timing. Connolly knows how to keep the film moving on all fronts, including the film’s focal point of solving a murder, but also in unraveling the past of certain characters as they are all tied together.

The Dry might work best if you go into it as clueless as I did. I read a very brief synopsis and watched a trailer and then simply drove to the theater and bought a ticket. I didn’t read into any reviews or look at its RT score, instead excited at the fact that I was about to see a film I didn’t even know existed five minutes prior.

And surprised I was by just how impressive the film was. I’d argue that it’s one of the better films that I have seen this year up until this point and surely a film that will fly under-the-radar for most. As of writing this, it is playing in a very limited theatrical capacity, but also available to rent on-demand on most streaming platforms for about $6, which is a price I’d happily pay again, having already seen the film.

If you’re in the mood for a dark crime investigation that pulls no punches and absolutely throws you into the thick of it, then by all means check this one out. Eric Bana gives a fantastic performance that demands to be seen, while director Robert Connolly wastes not a dollar of the film’s production budget. The Dry looks and feels as big as any other widescreen release, only it has the added benefit of having such a distinct location (remote town in Australia) that to my knowledge, hasn’t been beaten to death on American screens. This isn’t another Chicago/LA/NYC story or even just an isolated US farm town. Being set in Australia added an entire new layer on top of a story that could’ve easily been adapted in the US.

Give The Dry a chance and remember that films like this are still being made and thrown in theaters. It is up to us to continue to support these low-to-mid budget original films that can more than hold their own up against big studio IPs and franchise sequels.

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