Life & Culture

Film review: Dirt Music

Great scenery, but this romance did not impress Linda Marric




I first came across Gregor Jordan’s Dirt Music over a year and a half ago as part of the Glasgow Film Festival programme. Having, like most people, failed to be in any way impressed by it, I had assumed it would be the last time anyone would hear about this dull romantic tale. It seems I was wrong.

Adapted by screenwriter Jack Thorne (Enola Holmes) from Australian author Tim Winton’s novel of the same name, Dirt Music stars Scottish actor Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting, Line of Duty) and Aussie heartthrob Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound).

In White Point Australia, Georgie (Macdonald) is a former nurse who finds herself trapped in a loveless relationship with Jim Buckridge (David Wenham), a powerful crayfish baron who also expects her to act as mother to his two young sons from a former marriage.

Georgie’s life takes an unexpected turn when she meets handsome Lu Fox (Hedlund), a once successful musician now surviving as a poacher, a seemingly unwise choice given Jim’s monopoly on the local fishing trade. What Georgie hasn’t taken into account is that the Foxes and the Buckridges have a long and chequered history which might well rise to the surface should Jim get wind of his partner’s extra-marital indiscretions with Lu.

With acres of beautiful Australian landscape, turquoise waters and endless sunshine, Dirt Music often feels more like an extended music video than a fully fledged story with a plausible narrative. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be anything here in a way of plot or premise that would warrant anyone’s time beyond the usual contrived narratives about taciturn handsome loners waiting to be saved by the right woman — think Nicholas Sparks movies, but with an Aussie accent.

Alas, Dirt Music feels not only deeply contrived, but risibly far-fetched. Granted, there are a couple of decent performances from Macdonald and Wenham, but overall, the whole thing comes across as tediously predictable and somewhat unoriginal.

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