The murder of a young woman has remained unsolved for more than a year. It occurred in the outskirts of the city of Perth, in the Eastern Hills area. Three young men, Shane, Angus and Chris, who knew the victim, believe a local rumour that the murderer is a reclusive Indigenous man who lives near the scene of the crime. The trio paint accusations on the man’s fence. They break into his home. This destruction is supposed to be sending a message, but this is more an expression of the ongoing anger felt by the leader of the group, Shane (Jacob O’Neill). He is a tough kid who lives in the shadow of an older brother a local gang leader called Phoenix. Angus (Jamie Smith) is more a follower who is easily swayed, but Chris (Luke J. Morgan) has doubts about what they’re doing.
They have left high school and are searching for direction. Chris has more ambition than the others. He studies at TAFE in the city and he wants to leave the community they were raised in. He may not know where he is headed exactly, but out of the Hills is part of the answer. He and a fellow classmate, Abbey (Georgia Eyers) begin a relationship. Chris decides that he needs to deal with Bobby (Kelton Pell) the man whose home he attacked, so he makes cautious moves to communicate with him. Meanwhile, Angus is trying to get more involved in Phoenix’s criminal activities, which is definitely not what his older brother wants. Eventually, the worlds of all these characters will collide and the impact will change their lives.
Western Australia is not particularly known for filmmaking, yet in the last decade there has been a definite upswing in the number of features set and made in the state. In the last two years, H IS FOR HAPPINESS, BELOW and THE FURNACE are some, but not all, of the Western Australian features that have been released. Long-time watchers of the W.A. scene know this output is extraordinary. The levels of funding and production values of these various films vary widely. THE XROSSING is at the micro-budget end of the scale.
It took, director-writer Steven J. Mihaljevich and co-writer, producer Carl Maiorana three years to make their feature film. They worked with a small crew and limited resources, but the end-result is bigger in scope than most productions made in this way. There is an ambitious number of story strands, a good-sized cast and a multitude of locations (including Swan View and John Forrest National Park). The production had a daunting amount of obstacles for the filmmakers to overcome. Director Mihaljevich also took on the part of Phoenix, which would have been a considerable addition to a very crowded “to-do list”. The performances of the young cast are generally good; Morgan, Pell and Mihaljevich are the ones holding the audience attention in their scenes. The score by James Leadbitter and Desmond Richardson is atmospheric and evocative.
The first section of the film felt like the small film I was expecting, but by a third of the way in, it had opened-up and become a surprisingly complex production in terms of story, performances and production values. Ian Hale of The Backlot Perth, saw an earlier version of the film and was so impressed that he launched the company HALO Films to support Western Australian films and documentaries that do not have an existing distribution deal or theatrical release in place. THE XROSSING is HALO’s first release.
THE XROSSING had a sold-out premiere at Revelation Film Festival in Leederville back in December 2020 and begins its 2021 season on January 7 in Perth. Further details on venues and sessions here and here (HALO films).
Duration: 108 minutes. Rating: (7/10)