Downriver (2015)

Director: Grant Scicluna
Writer: Grant Scicluna
Cast: Reef IrelandKerry FoxRobert TaylorHelen Morse, Thom GreenCharles GroundsSteve MouzakisLester Ellis Jr.
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 15.6.2017

James (Reef Ireland) was just released from prison on parole, after having served time for drowning a little boy when he was a child himself. As he returns to his hometown, he has to face his past, both in the shape of the boy’s still grieving mother (Helen Morse) and his former best friend Anthony (Thom Green) who has a decidedly cruel streak. Haunted by the events, James is determined to find the boy’s body that’s still missing and to give closure to everybody involved.

Downriver was an exhausting bit of cinema. Watching it felt like wading through muck: possible, but way more work than walking on hard ground would be. And is that extra work really necessary when the road is right there?

As they deal with similar themes, it’s hard not to compare Downriver to DeUsynlige or Rectify, both of which I very much enjoyed (though I haven’t seen the last season of Rectify yet). And Downriver just doesn’t really keep up with the emotional force that they produce.

Instead I was rather annoyed at the hobby psychologization that runs through Downriver. Instead of character insight, it felt more like Scicluna read a bit of Freud and figured he understood everything about human nature now.

I was so little invested in the story or the characters or anything else about the film that I actually fell asleep for a bit around the middle of the film, and I didn’t regret one second I missed from a film that so far had mostly bored me, at least when I wasn’t shaking my head at how stupid I thought it all were.

At least the cast wasn’t bad and the cinematography was nice, but I could appreciate neither in the sluggish storytelling.

Summarizing: No.

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