|1990 and a boat load of refugees have been abandoned on Australia's Pilbara Coast - thousands of kilometres from anywhere. So begins a journey of survival.||score
|moviereview rates films from
1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
|FIND A MOVIEREVIEW|
Kenneth Moraleda, Rodney Afif, Sri Sacdprascuth, Glen Shea, Don Hany
Rating / Running Time
MA / 105 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006-2007
ABN 72 775 390 361
When an Indonesian fishing boat pulls up on a deserted coastline, you know it spells trouble. While the resolution is, perhaps, inevitable, journey is the purpose of this low-key yet compelling film. It takes its tone from the title, alluding to the country which is lucky for those capable of lasting the distance. It is a promising first feature for Rowland, an astute director who manipulates Australian convention with flair. As his small film builds toward a memorable finish, he finds much to say about cultural quirks and human spirit.
He uses a relatively unknown cast to his advantage. A story about boat-people and those tracking them on the Pilbara Coast would sink under the weight of familiarity. Four parties converge when commerce and misfortune weed out the weak. Two refugees, Iraqi and Cambodian, unwillingly team up with a stranded Indonesian. He was split from the crew who dumped their human payload with no more than a hand-drawn map to guide them. Optimistic in their ignorance, they start walking to Perth some 3000 kilometres through hostile, empty country. In pursuit is a border patrol, trying to bring the men to safety.
This is a perceptive tale of human instinct played out in the arena of people smuggling. Mostly restrained performance gives the film a realistic dimension that is spiced with Rowland’s fashionable editing and design. He replaces quirk for irony driven by circumstance – humour is dark and effective. Yet the character study is contained and what must be a truly terrifying ordeal is never fully convincing: Lucky Miles is not always as rewarding as you want it to be. However, while it’s no Walkabout, it’s no Welcome to Woop Woop either. Lucky Miles is a complicated story told in a simple way, that lets us tease out human value for ourselves. And for that, Rowland is to be applauded.
// COLIN FRASER