Sweet Country - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sweet Country Reviews

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April 13, 2019
Sweet Country is a modern day Australian classic. A searing document of history handled with great expertise and craft. Set in 1920s Northern Territory it is based on true life events. The story of an Indigenous man accused of murder, wrongfully. It is a harsh, unsparing film but also one of devastating beauty. Thanks to amazing cinematography by director Warwick Thornton. The outback of Australia has never looked better. Thornton has also constructed a story that shines a light on the harshness of outback life and the stark reality of indigenous life. It's not a world of rose coloured glasses. It's authentic tho the bone. It's also a pleasure to the see the great Bryan Brown and Sam Neill on our screens but also special mention to the dignified performance of Hamilton Morris. This is an important Australian film.
February 8, 2019
Yet another Australian movie financed largely by Government grants that ticks all the Political Correctness boxes. As predictable as night follows day. When will Australia stop throwing buckets of public funds at hate-based movie makers wanting to create division for division‚(TM)s sake? The script (what little there is) by Steven McGregor and David Tranter is supposedly set in the 1920s but, the endless prolific swearing sounds more like 2018 ‚" seems they can‚(TM)t see past their own era. Yes, it‚(TM)s a sad case but their characters are one dimensional and totally predictable, as are the majority of situations posed in their loosely based plot. Editor, Nick Meyers seems to be trying to add interest by cutting in flash forwards (and back) but this simply makes the lack of up-front, solid interest, more noticeable.

If local director Warwick Thornton grew up watching spaghetti westerns ‚" then he didn‚(TM)t have a chance, because all he‚(TM)s doing is transposing them into Australiana. The movie is also painfully stretched out it could be watched at 2 x speed and the viewer would miss nothing. Thornton‚(TM)s photographic direction is excellent (he should stay with this as his chosen profession) or was it actually co-photographer Dylan River who guided much of this? Equally good, was the sound recordist‚(TM)s professional work but, he also doubles as co-writer and leaves something to be desired ‚" maybe stay in the field your best at.

The unrelentingly nasty, foul-mouthed characters are simply too obviously set-up to be believed or taken seriously ‚" other than by viewers who do not balance their viewing habits and watch only this type of ‚~entertainment‚(TM) or are guilty partners of the ‚~them and us‚(TM) hate driven crowd ‚" those who continually drag this sorry world down to their pathetic levels. Brian Brown‚(TM)s Police Sergeant‚~s character is so superficial you could almost hear the production executives calling for a ‚~marketable‚(TM) name to be added to the cast ‚" same applies for Sam Neil, who plays the only ‚~Christian‚(TM) to inhabit this crude land (and Sam plays this out in his obvious atheistic manner) The Aboriginal casting is good and Matt Day does considerably well playing Judge Taylor. Maybe it‚(TM)s time for Australian moviemaking to grow up and move forward. Much time and money will be spent on marketing this movie overseas but might be better invested in a more positive endeavour.

Not sure why American Johnny Cash, singing Thomas Dorsey‚(TM)s ‚Peace in the Valley‚? was chosen for the end credits? If it was for satirical contrast - it simply didn‚(TM)t quite work. Perhaps then, it was intended for the American market...?
½ January 25, 2019
Brutal, realistic depiction of our shameful past.
½ January 9, 2019
Australian Western taking place in the 1920s around Alice Springs at a time when relations between whitefellas and blackfellas was particularly bad. Ewen Leslie plays a WWI vet who moves to the Outback to take over a station and starts causing trouble with his hard-drinking and negative approach to the Indigenous people (in contrast to the more equal treatment advocated by Sam Neill's missionary). Soon, Leslie has been killed by Hamilton Morris in an act of self-defence and Bryan Brown's constable is sent to track him down (and his wife, Natassia Gorey Furber), with the assistance of Gibson John, an Indigenous man expected to track outside of his own country. Director Warwick Thornton uses this plot (from screenwriter David Tranter) to interrogate Australian attitudes toward Indigenous people and the unequal application of the law. In other words, the European colonists want one version of justice for themselves but apply another version (frontier justice) to the Aboriginal people. It isn't too far a leap to suggest that this same double standard is still applied today - so this is an important message to contemplate. Thornton himself is a Kaytej man from Alice Springs and the film employed a large number of local Indigenous people both in front of and behind the camera (Thornton and his son Dylan River worked together as cinematographers and the film looks beautiful). It is excellent that there is an Indigenous voice (or voices) in film. Unfortunately, the "sweet" in the title may be meant ironically.
December 23, 2018
Excellent, all be it, so depressing
December 15, 2018
one of the year's great films. beautifully shot and acted. for a film with no music at all(except in the closing credits), it is surprisingly gripping. A sad, epic tale of "justice" in the wilds of turn of the century australia. a must-see!
December 6, 2018
Sweet Country is a 2017 Australian film directed by Warwick Thornton.
This is a typical slow-paced Australian outback black v white movie, but with an American western feel. The cinematography and settings are very good, but some of the performances are average, and a few scenes seem staged and contrived. Still, the film makes a good point from an historical perspective and the ending is quite touching.
November 17, 2018
Australian film making at its very best here, amazing cinematography and direction by Warwick Thornton supported by the best cast out there. A must see for any movie fan just to see how cinema can be perfectly done, the best since Rabbit Proof Fence. In my top 5 movies I have seen this year. Will be watching again.
October 30, 2018
Brilliant, and yet heart breaking to see that black or dark skinned people are treated the same everywhere, at all times.
September 22, 2018

Australia now has a sure fire western classic in its vaults
September 5, 2018
Beautiful and emotional, albeit a slow burn, "Sweet Country" is an exceptionally well made film from the land down under
½ August 22, 2018
The bleak yet beautiful "Sweet Country" is a traditional western that's eerily reflective of modern times. Set in the Australian outback instead of the wild west of the American frontier, the thematic parallels are no less alarming. A grim view of merciless racial tensions, relaxed brutality, and a loss of moral justice is conveyed through a gorgeous looking film that's brimming with handsome visuals.

Set in 1929, aboriginal farmhand Sam (Hamilton Morris) works for kind preacher Fred (Sam Neill) in the country's Northern Territory. After Sam is sent to help out a drunk and ill-tempered neighbor Harry (Ewen Leslie), some unspeakable events unfold that lead up to a violent shootout. Sam kills Harry and takes off into the vast wilderness with his wife, hoping to escape his fate.

The remainder of the film is part adventure and part courtroom drama. A hunting party (including a Sergeant, the preacher, and a ragtag band of farmhands) is formed to track Sam down, but he continues to stay one step ahead of them. The film's deliberately slow pacing is given a forceful boost with director Warwick Thornton's unique storytelling method. It's one that plays with time and place, full of carefully inserted flashbacks and flash-forwards that reveal the eventual fate of these characters. It's memorable storytelling that instills an almost unbearable sense of dread, right down to the final scene.

The cinematography (by Thornton and Dylan River) is wildly impressive too, with sweeping images of the endless Australian landscape lending a somber visual reflection of the film's themes of cruelty and isolation. Bringing home this desolate feeling is the choice to forego a traditional score and instead relying on the sounds of nature to provide the film's sparse soundtrack. Sound plays an integral role in this film, and it's equal parts horrifying and effective. These choices border on brilliance, especially in a western.

Unfortunately, the film is plagued with an arduous slow pacing that hurts it overall. At least twenty minutes could've been cut without diminishing the punch of the story and its political message. Although at times it's uncomfortable to watch, "Sweet Country" works as a distinguished statement on integrity, authority, and bigotry and is a strong entry for the genre.

½ August 6, 2018
The movie has a familiar story and simple dialogue, and this is not a problem by any means, yet it's technically impressive. Sweet Country is a visually stunning film. The cinematography in this movie is similar to Mudbound's, but it's even more beautiful! Actually, it has the best cinematography of the year, so far! And while the movie looks poetic, the same goes for the storytelling. It reminded me of Days of Heaven. As a matter of fact, you may feel if you're watching a Terrence Malick film, except it's more fast-paced.

The similarity between Sweet Country and Malick's movies don't stop there. As Warwick Thornton used symbolism in Sweet Country in a way that resembles Malick's use of symbolism. By that I mean the use of allegories and symbols in a beautiful way that feels literary or poetic. Unfortunately, the use of symbols in Sweet Country often feels superfluous, and completely unnecessary.

Sweet Country is masterly edited, and I think that what makes it very watchable, and often enjoyable despite its poetic style that may indispose some people.

Thornton used intercut flash-forwards and flashbacks heavily. And while sometimes they help us understanding some events that happened, or will happen, therefore build tension, they often seem like nothing but artistic frippery, specially when they are used to make the movie seem if it has a non-linear storytelling.

Sweet Country also should be praised for its non-sentimental approach to its message. Unlike other movies that tackle the same subject matter, Sweet Country doesn't dramatize any aspect of its story. The movie even doesn't have a soundtrack, and that makes it feel more realistic. The movie relies on its bleak and dreary atmosphere to imply its subject matter and moral instead of presenting them in the usual manner.

All the performances are good. Hamilton Morris' performance is impressive because it feels genuine. Sam Neill is also very good even if his character, Fred Smith, is underdeveloped. Fred Smith is a very important character and should have been more developed, but unfortunately, it's a very flat character.

In general, the movie has some issues in terms of its characters. The movie has too many characters for its own good. And the movie tries to give almost every character its fair share of importance.

In the end, Sweet Country a movie of visuals first and foremost, it could hardly be more visually impressive. But, to be honest, it's a very pretentious work.

August 5, 2018
Although the dialogue and plot maybe a bit sparse for some I found the themes explored in this story extremely heavy and meaningful. The acting was decent but the real star of this film was the Australian outback which was shot and portrayed majestically. I also appreciated the seamless use of flashbacks to help us better understand these characters while keeping me fully engaged as well. Debated on a 3.5* but I think this gets to 4* for me, for the reasons stated above.
July 31, 2018
A slow and relatively straightforward film that is reminiscent of American neo-slavery movies of....I want to say the '60s. Sweet Country is greatly elevated, though, by its sensitivity and care for the plight of the native Australian protagonists, beautiful acting, and sumptuous direction, full of clever framing (the old timey projector! beautiful!) and wide shots of the resplendent outback.
½ July 28, 2018
Extremely hard movie to follow.
½ July 27, 2018
I almost fell asleep...Boring to death..!\
July 7, 2018
A terrible film, hopelessly B-grade with some very shoddy acting from the white cast. It is trying to be serious about the subject matter but offers a very juvenile approach. It's like watching a bad high-school play. Should have played the exploitative route ala. The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith rather than trying to do justice to this tremendously complex and sensitive part of history with so little brains.
July 3, 2018
This are the kind of stories critics love to praise. Plus the visuals are good so there is no stopping them. But from my point of view, the film is a bit of a bore. Slow-paced and flat. Thanks to photography and strong emotions from the characters though, turns out to be good, but if you expect a masterpiece, you might be disappointed.
½ July 3, 2018
I wasn't entertained. Nothing wowed me. I watched a half-baked storyline with no drama, no action, nothing thrilled me. Nothing. It was like I was just breathing. The videography is OK. The dog barking was really annoying and could have been mastered better. Props to their equipment.. fail to the film.

Go buy a ticket to a good western!

Spend more money and make more films!
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