Sweet Country is one of those rare films that slides between a few genres without feeling obnoxious in the way that it chooses to do so. It starts out as a racially tinged social picture, 1920s white Australians trying to figure out between themselves their relationship to their aboriginal peoples with whom they share their country. Treading on each other’s toes as they try to navigate each other’s levels of racial resentment while the aboriginal diaspora around do their best to work with, or for, or around the white folk peacefully.
I don’t think there was ever a time when calling your lead character Dominika would have been subtle, but in a post Fifty Shades world it’s more about setting expectations. Those expectations are ones which the film constantly delights in frustrating. Dominika goes through the entire film without properly domming anybody, instead after receiving extensive training as a sexpionage agent (real term btw) she immediately goes and falls in love with the first man she’s sent to seduce.
I think You Were Never Really Here kinda holds up even better on the rewatch. Not to say that the first time viewing is bad in any way, but a mid-production budget cut the necessitated the excision of some fifteen pages of screenplay means that the sense of this adaptation is pushed within an inch of its life. There’s a late game revelation of the real villain of the piece that comes out sorta clunkily, split between some murmured exposition and an incredibly manipulative edit that the film has to then snap freeze for five minutes to allow some tone drama to play out.
So this is what happened to all the tightly constructed thrillers that we used to have twenty years ago. They just became the Funny Movies. Like, since the original Hangover they’ve both been cribbing from the same playbook, except instead of waking up with a cadaver and whatever local mob boss gunning for you, it’s just replaced with a series of spiralling comic hijinks. Game Night even draws up its own convoluted web of organised crime, shadowy masterminds who ain’t all that they seem, hard pressed paranoia. The only thing that makes it a comedy is that it’s about the Funny People.
There’s mess in the life of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson. Nothing quite adds up for her in the way it’s supposed to, or maybe she’s just getting the sums wrong. It’s telling in a way that the character is bad at maths and you ever really find out what she’s good at. Aside from making a scene, or trying to be about as alive as she can be in any given moment. Her impulses rarely serve her well but they’re hers.