The Dry (2020) | Discussion, Recommendations and Spoilers | Film Review
The Dry (2020) is an Australian mystery-drama film directed by Robert Connolly and written by Robert Connolly and Harry Cripps. It is based on the novel The Dry by Jane Harper. The film stars Eric Bana, Keir O'Donnell, Genevieve O'Reilly and John Polson. It was released on December 11, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia by Roadshow Pictures.
We begin the film from the perspective of Aaron Falk (Eric Bana), an Australian Federal Police (AFP) Officer who has taken leave to go to a funeral in his hometown, a town he hasn't visited since the death of his friend, Ellie Deacon (BeBe Bettencourt) which occurred 20 years ago.
Before Aaron leaves his apartment, he looks at a card that was sent to him that states he lied and Luke lied. We learn that the reason Aaron is taking leave is because his friend from his hometown, Luke Hadler (Martin Dingle-Wall), has allegedly murdered his wife, his son and committed suicide, leaving only his infant daughter Charlotte alive.
Aaron arrives in town for the funeral and is confronted by several people in town, angry at him for some unknown reason. We soon learn that many people in the town suspect that he and Luke were involved in the death of Ellie Deacon, but with insufficient evidence, neither were ever charged with a crime. We also discover that Aaron left town due to constant harassment from Ellie's father, Mal Deacon (William Zappa) and Ellie's brother, Grant Dow (Matt Nable), while Luke stayed.
We learn through flashbacks that Aaron, Luke, Ellie and Gretchen (Genevieve O'Reilly) were friends in their late teenage years. While it was unclear what kind of relationship Ellie and Gretchen had with Aaron and Luke at first, it becomes clear that Aaron was interested in Ellie as more than friends. They kiss occasionally, yet Ellie seems reluctant in some strange way. Undeterred, Aaron continues to pursue Ellie and asks her to meet him at a river all four friends seem to frequently visit via a note he gives her after school ends one day.
Meanwhile, in present time, Aaron is harassed by Grant, Mal and other townfolk because Aaron has not left the town after the funeral. Instead of leaving, Aaron has taken on the task of looking into the murders and suicide, as Luke's mother, Barb (Julia Blake) and father, Grant (Bruce Spence), do not believe that Luke would ever hurt his family. Aaron agrees to look into the case and goes to Luke's house.
While at the house, he meets the officer in charge of the investigation, Greg Raco (Keir O'Donnell). Officer Raco welcomes Aaron's help as he is new to the town and Aaron knows the town folk and is more experienced in police investigations.
Aaron and Greg start to investigate everyone Luke and his wife Karen (Rosanna Lockhart) could have come into contact with on the day of the murders and apparent suicide and who could have had a grudge against them or a reason to kill them.
They speak with Karen's boss, school principal Scott Whitlam (John Polson) to try to determine Karen's state of mind prior to her murder. Scott tells Aaron and Greg that the only thing Karen was preoccupied with was trying to procure grant money for the school, but other than that, she seemed fine.
The rest of the film follows Aaron and Greg as they try to figure out if Luke really did kill his wife, his son and himself or if someone else committed the murders and what really happened on the day Ellie died 20 years prior.
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Gone Baby Gone (2007)
*Discussion contains spoilers
As the film continues, we discover that several of the people that knew Luke and Karen could have a motive to kill them. We learn that Gretchen and Luke had a short affair, which could have given Gretchen the motive to kill Luke and his family. We also learn that on the day of Ellie's death, Luke came to Aaron late at night and told him to tell the police that they were together, shooting rabbits when Ellie drowned in the river. Luke tells Aaron to lie because he discovered that the police had found Aaron's note to Ellie in Ellie's pocket, making it look like he met Ellie at the river and drowned her after an altercation.
However, we soon learn that Ellie was actually murdered by her father Mal, who was abusing her after her mother left. On the day at the river, Ellie tried to run away from her home. She did go to meet Aaron, but was discovered by her father before she could talk to him. Her father had come home and discovered Ellie's drawers open and backpack missing, so he set off to find her.
Her father, furious that he was going to lose control of Ellie, drowned her in the river and pretended to be devastated when her body was found. He spent the rest of his life pointing the finger at Aaron so he wouldn't be found out.
We also find out that the person who killed Luke, Karen and their son was the school principal, Scott Whitlam. It turns out that when Karen applied to a school grant for $70,000, Scott stole the money because he was in debt for gambling. Through a flashback, we see that Scott flagged Luke down for a ride and killed him with a rock when he was about to give him a ride in his truck. Scott then went to Karen and Luke's house and killed Karen when she answered the door and killed Luke and Karen's son when Scott saw that he had witnessed Karen's murder. He left the baby alive because Charlotte couldn't identify him.
I really liked this movie a lot. I thought it was slow at first, but everything in the film was important and I appreciated how much time was spent on the character and story development. I liked that I couldn't tell what actually happened to Ellie until Aaron did and it made me feel that much closer to Aaron. I suspected everyone and was surprised at who really killed Aaron and his family. I also really liked that everyone who seemed like they were bad was actually good and everything was resolved at the end of the film. I was worried they wouldn't show what had actually happened to Ellie, but everything was resolved in a logical and positive way.
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