TJ’s quest to find the son he’s never known, takes him on a journey across the remote and stunning landscape. On the road, TJ questions his life of violence and meets a host of amazing characters who open up a way of life infused with music and hunting and community. It is a unique story told by real people from the breath-taking Kimberley region.
‘Mad Bastards’ comes from director Brendan Fletcher whose recent works have largely included multiple episodes of ‘Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey in 2011. For this film the decision was taken to largely include the people’s whose stories and experiences the film is based on, as the actors in the film. With little or no acting experience they take on the lead roles, and create a genuine, intimate and compelling presentation.
The location shooting across Western Australia is visually impressive, it captures the beauty of the landscape and brings a sense of grounded, harsh reality to the film. With some scenes filmed in Perth, it also adds something a little unique for Perth viewers to see familiar locations up on the screen.
As we follow TJ on his journey of discovery from the city to the Kimberley region the changing landscape and the environment around him all carries such an intimate sense of realism, it feels so effective at drawing back the curtain on the look and feel of some communities across northern Western Australia.
The heart of the film centres on a father re-discovering himself, reflecting on life and attempting to reconnect with his origins and his son. It is a compelling story and is told with drama, humour, and violence, producing an entertaining and sombre story that conveys the experiences and harsh realities for the people who have experienced firsthand the challenges and difficulties being shown.
The film is paced quite slowly throughout the second and third acts, the opening act performs well as it introduces the various characters and locations however after this initial period it doesn’t manage to maintain the momentum resulting in some fairly long stretches where events are moving quite slowly and a tighter script may have helped avoid the dawdling nature of the later acts.
Overall ‘Mad Bastards’ is effective in raising awareness of the nature of some of the difficulties faced by communities in the Kimberley region, as well as conveying the manner in which some of these problems are addressed. At its core the film is telling a very human story, and I can recommend it to any with an interest in the subject matter or the region. For those who don’t, I can still recommend it as an enjoyable movie experience.
I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars, it is in cinemas around Australia from Thursday 5th May 2011.