The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Portraying an unlikely romance between two outsiders in a rural Australian town, Dirt Music captures the passion between the two leads, but fails to create tension in the plot.
Dirt Music is a beautiful film, and director Gregor Jordan knows how to capture the stunning Australian landscapes. The best moments of the film are these gorgeous moments, be it the ocean, the outback, or even hitchhiking. These along with the intimate moments between Lu and Georgie help give the film its heart. Unfortunately, this ambience isn’t sustained through the film, and the pacing and style feel unbalanced throughout, leaving the audience unsettled to the overall tone of the film.
Outsider Georgie (Kelly Macdonald) becomes infatuated with poacher Lu (Garrett Hedlund) who holds a tragic backstory. The romantic element of the plot works so well, as do the cleverly constructed flashbacks of Lu with his family. Unfortunately, the pair are split apart for the majority of the film which takes all passion and tension out of the story. There’s a random subplot with Georgie’s family which just felt out of place, and I struggled to understand the motivations from her character. The film is based on a novel of the same name which I’ve not read, but a little research implies there’s a thriller element to the source material between Lu and Georgie’s partner Jim which is definitely missing in this big screen adaptation.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Macdonald and Hedlund have amazing chemistry, and any time they share the screen, it’s electric to watch. I just wish there had been so much more of this. Georgie as a character seemed woefully underdeveloped and I struggled to figure out why she was still with partner Jim when she clearly hates him. David Wenham is intimidating as the town bully, Jim Buckridge, and has enough menace behind his eyes to question how he might be making Georgie stay, but there just isn’t enough time spent on their relationship to figure out how they could have ever gotten together in the first place. I also loved George Mason as Darkie, Lu’s brother. Maybe it’s my bias from being a Home and Away fan, but I felt the flashback scenes between him and Hedlund, and any scenes of them singing, really shined in the film.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
'Dirt Music' Fails To Be Memorable Or Emotive
I’ve already spoken of the gorgeous natural backdrops in the film, which are indeed breathtaking. There’s also some realistic use of prosthetics for a foot wound which had me covering my face. It’s Lu’s house that scores the film a full popcorn in this category as it feels fully lived in and cluttered with tons of hints to who he is behind the anger and grief.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
With a title like Dirt Music, it’s clear music is going to play a large role in the film. Luckily, every performance between the Fox group is beautiful and holds that perfect acoustic indie, summer vibe. Hedlund, Mason, and Julia Stone’s Sal make up the trio, and their musical performances were the highlight of the film.
Visually and acoustically stunning, but lacking a solid plot, Dirt Music fails to be memorable or emotive aside from a few small fragments scattered in the runtime. It’s not going to upset anyone, but it’s equally not going to stick in people’s memories after a viewing.