Mad Bastards

DRAMA; 1hr 36min

STARRING: Dean Daley-Jones, Ngaire Pigram, Lucas Yeeda

Family ties: from left, Yeeda and Daley-Jones

The Australian Aboriginal song — of poverty, alcohol abuse and alienation — remains the same in film-maker Brendan Fletcher’s unvarnished version. Even so, it can’t be sung too often.


Thirteen-year-old Bullet (Yeeda) has never known his “proper dad,” T.J. (Daley-Jones), a brawny bloke with anger issues and not much of a life. Bullet’s mother, Nella (Pigram), is a trouble-magnet drunk and, perpetuating the damage cycle, Bullet has been packed off to a camp after torching a building. Led by an elder (John Watson), the camp involves living off outback land and, thereby, learning about yourself. While Bullet tries some of that, T.J. is making the mammoth trek from Perth to the Kimberley to finally meet him.


Every tiny victory is a blessing for those who have it so tough. Using non-actors (Pigram excepted), Fletcher tells their real story the way it should be told. There’s a lot to be said for that exacting level of honesty, even when, as for T.J. and Bullet, it’s such a long and hard way home.