Sweet Country Screen 4 articles

Sweet Country

2017

Sweet Country Poster
  • Like so many of the westerns to which it serves as a bold and compelling corrective, Sweet Country contains moments of great nuance and richness alongside others that are about as subtle as a blow to the head from a rifle butt. The latter description may fit the film’s opening shot, the first of many fleeting, achronological images whose full context and significance only become clear at later junctures.

  • It stunned me like a slap in the face. Thornton’s symbolism is rich and painful. In one scene, the drunk white men in town project their myths and legends directly onto the country they invaded, as they watch The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906). Crying for at least my third, possibly fourth time, at LFF this year, I thought about what it means to be British-Australian. Every day I enjoy the freedom and privilege that structural racism, built on post-colonialism, allows.

  • Thornton’s first film . . . announced the arrival of a talented filmmaker intent on giving voice to the stories of the underrepresented and marginalized Aboriginal population of Australia. But Sweet Country succeeds in its even loftier ambition of taking such a story and placing it within a mythical, archetypal cinematic tradition that makes it much bigger than itself, as big, in fact, as the landscape it inhabits, which is as hostile as it is beautiful and as vast as man’s capacity for cruelty.

  • It attempts to be unique in every way possible, and nearly succeeds. An Australian Western about colonialism, it consciously revises the racial politics of the genre, while emphasizing vibrant visuals, expressive sound design, and a radically loose narrative structure. . . . Thornton is exceptionally skilled at intertwining genre, formal innovation, and political revisionism; what finally undermines Sweet Country is that his skill does not extend to more fully depicting Aboriginal women.