DRAMA; 1hr 33min
STARRING: Matt Nable, John Jarratt
A league of his own: Nable
The fictional 1980s stoush between Sydney rugby league teams Newtown and St George that kicks off the in-your-vitals drama The Final Winter is slam-bam cinema with more than a touch of the Oliver Stones. With Newtown up against it, team captain Mick “Grub” Henderson (first-timer Nable, who also wrote the script; former league leading light Matthew Johns plays Newtown’s coach) does his block. Grub’s victim is his brother Trent (Nathaniel Dean), who is scoring points for St George. Behind the scenes, Newtown management (Jarratt is in slippery form as its CEO) is unhappy with Grub and the club’s performance. After 13 years, the old-school renegade is on the outer — a prospect he pugnaciously refuses to accept.
The Final Winter is solid, strong Australian fare with no frills or false notes. Its bare-knuckled grip on a changing reality is driven home by a ballsy, soulful performance from Nable, in whose battered face and liquid eyes lies a raft of unexpressed emotion as Grub reassesses his priorities and learns to value what he has.