Every film tries to harvest mini sub-plots along with a significant plot at the centre of the story. However, most movies fail to balance these mini-quests of the protagonist. Sometimes subplots become too heavy, blinding the main quest of the protagonist, and sometimes they are too weak that their presence doesn’t make a difference. But The Dry, directed by Robert Connolly, incorporates each layer in a notable proportion.
The Dry is an Australian thriller drama based on Jane Harper’s book of the same name. The film exceptionally pictures the drought-stricken Australian town where the events happen. The cracked lands and parched souls are the film’s highlight.
‘The Dry’ Summary
Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) returns to his hometown, Kiewarra, Regional Australia, to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke Hadler. Luke killed himself after killing his wife, Karen, and young son, leaving behind only his baby daughter, Charlotte. Aaron is requested and threatened by Luke’s father to visit the funeral. He sends Aaron a letter that connects Luke’s and Aaron’s erring past.
In a drought-stricken Kiewarra, Luke’s parents suspect that the incident could be a possible murder and urges Aaron to investigate further. When Aaron shows his disinterest, Luke’s father threatens him again for the murder of a teenage girl, Eleanor “Ellie” Deacon, who was linked to Aaron in his college years. For the same matter, the whole town calls Aaron, the killer and he is unwelcomed by the majority.
However, looking at the savageness of the town’s people, Aaron suspects that they could have killed or forced Luke for a possible suicide, and therefore he stays back. With the help of the local sergeant, Greg Raco (Keir O’Donnell), he commences an investigation towards all the likely suspects who could be linked to Luke’s murder. While running the investigation, Aaron also tries to make peace with his past that link him to Ellie’s suicide/murder.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘The Dry’ Ending Explained
While in town, Aaron suspects every person, but that’s the nature of his job. However, the town doesn’t receive it well and tries to humiliate him.
Through his college friend and Luke’s ex-girlfriend, Gretchen (Genevieve O’Reilly), Aaron finds out that Luke’s wife Karen struggled to fund the town’s school where she worked with Gretchen. Ignoring the facts initially, Aaron instead suspects Gretchen of killing Luke and his family due to hatred or a possibly unrequited love story. He also claims that Luke was the father to Gretchen’s son Lachlan.
Distraught and helpless, Aaron couldn’t find any worthy links to the murder. All he had, was a library receipt on which Karen wrote the word, “Grant.” He suspects Ellie’s brother, whose name is Grant Dow, but he has a substantial alibi. However, a poker machine in his hotel rings a bell. He steals the funding papers from Gretchen’s house and finds out that the school was sanctioned 70 Grand, which never showed up.
Aaron connects the dot that leads up to a single man, school principal Scott Whitlam. He had a gambling problem and owed big money to people in Melbourne. To protect his family, Scott shifted to Kiewarra, but the men came looking for him and threatened him to clear his debt. Scott paid them out of school funding money, about which Karen found out. To keep things secret, Scott murdered her family. The Remington’s bullet through which Luke and his family were murdered was found in the school’s shed.
Aaron and Greg tried to arrest Scott, but he poured Gasoline on himself and threatened to burn the forest. A possible forest fire could bring wrath upon the whole town in a drought-stricken town, maybe, more. Aaron and Greg put their life at stake to stop Scott’s burning body from hitting the ground. Finally, Aaron redeems himself and becomes a hero for the town.
But the death of Ellie is still a mystery. In his last visit to the jungle, Aaron finds Ellie’s bag hidden between the rocks, where they kissed for the first time. Inside the bag, Aaron finds Ellie’s diary in which she wrote about her father’s assaults. A possible sexual assault.
Ellie ran away from home to save herself from brutality, but her father, Mal Deacon, found out. Ellie came into the forest to meet Aaron for the last time before leaving when Mal pushed her into the river, causing her death.
Aaron leaves the town with Ellie’s memory (backpack). He walks along the riverbed, which looks completely “dry.”
It’s a mesmerizing drama that keeps you invested too. The subplots are precisely submerged in the story. They don’t feel like a hindrance towards the primary pursuit, yet their impact is felt at regular intervals. For example, Aaron’s past had little to do with Luke’s murder, yet the narrative keeps on hinting that the past could be a motive in the actual turn of events. Through a single narrative, the writer explores two hidden mysteries, Luke’s murder and Ellie’s death. The credit goes to Jane Harper’s brilliant writing in the original novel.
Director Robert Connolly has splendidly used the background of a drought-stricken town. The cause of prolonged dry spell is equally visible in ambience and his character’s personality. The title signifies not only the dried uplands but also the dried hearts of people. Cinematographer Stefan Duscio has perfectly captured the subtext his director wanted to portray in the film.
Munich star Eric Bana has performed exceptionally. He is a hidden gem, and I am amused we don’t see him much in Hollywood. He is a talent that needs to be recognized further.
The Dry is a 2021 Australian drama thriller film directed by Robert Connolly.
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