The Dry, a film based on Jane Harper’s award-winning novel, follows Australian federal Agent Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) as he revisits his drought-stricken hometown to attend a tragic funeral. But his return opens a decades-old wound – the unsolved death of a teenage girl.
Director Robert Connolly has previously made his mark on Australian cinema with films Balibo and Paper Planes. Here Connolly captures on screen the emotional conflict many Australians have with their continent’s vast interior. At once drawn to the wide, open spaces and romantic, libertarian freedom, yet maintaining a deeply-held fear of the many unconquerable dangers the Australian landscape hides just up its sleeve. Eric Bana – in his first Australian feature film since 2007’s Romulus, My Father – provides a focused and quietly charismatic performance as The Dry’s protagonist.
MUSIC BY PETER RAEBURN
The mystery and loneliness of the barren farming district depicted in The Dry can be heard in the film’s creative soundtrack – composed by South African-born, London-based Peter Raeburn. Compared to other contemporary thriller scores in the UK/Nordic vein, The Dry’s soundtrack does have a distinct clarity, perhaps reflecting the clear, blue skies of the film’s regional Victorian setting.
Distant bells, ambient synths and pensive strings provide the soundtrack’s musical foundation, situated by dry, rustling shakers reminiscent of a rattlesnake’s tail. A distinctive flute|synth flutter – first heard as the camera pans across the grey residential towers of Melbourne’s docklands district (the home of Eric Bana’s Aaron) – provide the soundtrack’s top and tail, the leitmotiv appearing in its final form during the film’s final climactic moments.
UNDER THE MILKY WAY
In a particularly intimate scene, actress Bebe Bettencourt, who plays Ellie Deacon – a teenage friend of Eric Bana’s character Aaron Falk – provides a fireside, a cappella performance of the song ‘Under The Milky Way’ by the Australian band The Church. ‘Under The Milky Way’ appears again under the film’s closing credits with added orchestration, working its way seamlessly into the tonal fabric of Raeburn’s score. The song’s lyrics echo The Dry’s troubled, searching characters poetically: “Wish I knew what you were looking for / Might have known what you would find”.
Follow Peter Raeburn at peterraeburn.com