Unfinished Sky


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Unfinished Sky
"As a two hander, the film eases gently towards acceptance, even affection, until a melodramatic ending blows it to smithereens."

If this was literature, it would be a short story. There is nothing original about the plot, which puts undue pressure on the characters. Are they interesting enough? Do they develop?

John (William McInnes) is an Australian sheep farmer, living alone with his dog Elvis (Milo). What is the opposite of the life and soul of the party? That’s him. Tahmeena (Monic Hendrickx) is an Afghan illegal, unable to speak the language, scared out of her mind and traumatised. Who is the opposite of Keira Knightley in Atonement? That’s her.

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She arrives at John’s farm one day, exhausted, bruised and bleeding. She has escaped from virtual imprisonment at the local tavern, where she was forced into prostitution. Ever since John’s wife died in suspicious circumstances, he has become a recluse. The appearance of this disturbed foreign woman is the last thing he needs.

This is a polar-opposites-attract scenario, played in slow time, with baby book English lessons and a nosey cop stalking the undergrowth. As well as being eaten up with guilt – or is it boredom? – John is a dull bloke. He may have the looks of a future Aussie star, but that’s the actor, not the farmer. Given the chance, you would choose Elvis for a long-term relationship.

Tahmeena adapts to the Christian lifestyle extremely quickly and learns to speak Oz in a trice – gabbling in gobbley without subtitles can turn an audience off. To her credit, Henrickx ensures that Tahmeena never slips too smoothly into the role of farm mate and retains the untamed neurosis of the dispossessed.

As a two-hander, the film eases gently towards acceptance, even affection, until a melodramatic ending blows it to smithereens. Writer/director Peter Duncan’s use of black-and-white flashbacks to explain Tahmeena’s paranoia, an annoying plot device throughout, goes into high gear during the botched finale. Less explanation and more trust would have finished the sky with a certain satisfaction. As it is, unfinished, credibility is sacrificed and sentiment wasted.

Reviewed on: 20 Feb 2008
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Unfinished Sky packshot
An Afghan refugee hides out on an isolated farm in Australia.
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Director: Peter Duncan

Writer: Peter Duncan

Starring: William McInnes, Monic Hendrickx, David Field, Bille Brown, Roy Billing, Christopher Sommers, Milo

Year: 2007

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia

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