DRAMA; M, 1hr 35min
STARRING: Geoffrey Rush, Miranda Otto, Paul Schneider, Ewen Leslie, Sam Neill, Odessa Young, Anna Torv
The Young one
Writer-director Simon Stone’s ambitious cinema debut is an adaptation, Russian doll–style, of his theatre adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1884 play The Wild Duck. Relocated from Norway to a contemporary, struggling Australian logging town, the worsening events centre around the return from the US of malcontent Christian (Schneider) to the home of his chilly-fish father, Henry (Rush). Logging magnate Henry is about to close down the family’s generations-held timber mill and marry his 31-year-old housekeeper, Anna (Torv). This doesn’t sit well with his disapproving son, with whom Henry has a depressing history.
Meanwhile, at the steerage end of town, despite losing his job at the mill, Christian’s childhood friend Oliver (Leslie) lives contentedly with his schoolteacher wife, Charlotte (Otto), gifted teenage daughter Hedvig (Young) and supportive father Walter (Neill). Their happiness bubble bursts with a bang when Christian meddles in Oliver’s personal business and a morass of undercurrents boil over in a tsunami of booze, rancour and long-buried secrets that should definitely have stayed that way. Poetically photographed and keenly performed though it is, the Sturm und Drang winds down as a slow leak of misery.