Home is Where the Murder is At
Having been working in the city, detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) returns home where he finds himself investigating the brutal murder of a local girl discovered in a drainage pipe. But Jay's return home is not without its issues as the local police do not like working with an Aboriginal detective whilst the local Indigenous community and his old friends are not happy because he is a cop. Never the less Jay slowly tries to unravel the web of lies he is presented with to get to the bottom of the murder
Whilst browsing the reviews of "Mystery Road" I spotted one which said it was like a modern western with the new lawman in town not only having to deal with those resentful of the law but also his colleagues who appear resentful of an outsider. And that sold it to me being a fan of the western genre and having watched "Mystery Road" I can definitely see it right down to the one local the old timer with a quick wit who is more accepting of the outsider and who knows what is going on in the community.
But whilst if I was sitting here with a tick sheet "Mystery Road" would score highly on the western list it strangely doesn't feel like a western and feels more like one of those late night TV dramas. It has that quiet, unshowy style and a crispness to the cinematography of someone still making their way in the business and caring about the way everything looks. That person is Ivan Sen who alongside being the cinematographer is also the writer and director and in fairness he has delivered a good looking movie. My one trouble with "Mystery Road" is at times it feels drawn out and has a quietness which only goes to accentuate that feeling of scenes lasting longer than need be because of their look rather than for what they deliver.
What is for certain is that Ivan Sen has put a lot of faith in actor Aaron Pedersen to carry the movie and he does as he delivers an aspect of measure to his characterisation. By that he makes Jay Swan seem a quiet man, doing his job, observing others and keeping his thoughts and feelings to himself which means when he does snap it has the most impact. But when it comes to the supporting performances they end up anonymous with none of the characters being memorable.
What this all boils down to is that "Mystery Road" is a nicely shot movie with some beautiful, crisp cinematography whilst it is also nicely acted with Aaron Pedersen perfectly cast as the man of few words. But the slowness of the movie combined with its quietness is a problem and it makes it feel drawn out and at times damn right lethargic, well until you get to an impressive ending.