BBC1: Wednesday 29 April, 11.30pm
On a fishing weekend in the Snowy River, Gabriel Byrne and his buddies discover an Aborigine girl’s body. You’d think this might put a crimp in their weekend, but they carry on fishing. After all, she’s already dead, right? She can wait till Monday, when they return to town. It causes a bit of a fuss, as you can imagine. If the outline seems familiar, that might be because Raymond Carver’s short story So Much Water So Close to Home has been filmed before, as part of Robert Altman’s Los Angeles soap Short Cuts. Altman treated the story facetiously. Lantana director Ray Lawrence takes the long-faced approach, in which tremendous significance is attached to scenes that don’t always warrant it (in this repect, Jindabyne might as well be called Lantana 2). So it looks good without ever feeling like a real movie (we’re not talking Deliverance here), even though Lawrence repeatedly fades the screen to black and keeps taking a high-in-the-sky, God’s eye view of proceedings (so we’re constantly made aware we’re watching a movie). It’s all too neat (the music’s fussy, too) and the Aboriginal angle makes the story less, not more, interesting. To be honest, the issue of race hadn’t even occurred to me until the town’s PC brigade waded in. I naively assumed this was simply a story about human nature and failings. Good acting, nice scenery. But I’ll take the Aussie horror flick Wolf Creek over the likes of Jindabyne every time. It treats similar themes with far more punch and much less preaching.