Film review: The Turning

POWERFUL IMAGERY: 17 short stories make up The Turning.
POWERFUL IMAGERY: 17 short stories make up The Turning.

THE TURNING (M) Produced by Robert Connolly

Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett

My sister sent me a copy of the book The Turning for Christmas last year.

She knows me well enough to pick out fiction for me, and she knows that my attention span is tailor-made for collections.

It's a fabulous book, full of all the heat and underlying unease that anyone who spends a while in Australia gets to know.

Author Tim Winton stages his tales in those shifting tense spaces where the suburbs and the small towns brush up against the endless plains and coastlines of South and Western Australia.

Of the 17 stories, some are near novella-length, some not more than a few pages; a dozen or more feature a cast of recurring characters. It occurred to me, reading and re-reading the book over summer, that there was the guts of a very good feature film in those intertwined tales.

But The Turning – the film – is not that feature. It is instead a collection of short films; one for every story in the book. Seventeen directors, including Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah), Robert Connolly (Balibo) and first-time director, actor David Wenham (The Lord of The Rings), take on a story each, with a fresh cast each time.

The result distanced me at first. I wanted a closer interweaving of the narratives, and more continuity in the story telling. But a day or two later, I was forced to re-evaluate.

I can only review a film for what it is and The Turning is the finest collection of linked short films I have ever seen. It is a triumph for the Australian film industry and a very worthy representation of the book.

But you know, I still hold out hope that someone will also make a feature from the same material.

The Turning opens on November 7.

The Dominion Post