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On digital: Sweet Country — an age-old story of cowboys and natives

On digital: Sweet Country — an age-old story of cowboys and natives

July 11
01:36 2018

Directed by Warwick Thornton, 2017


The last big Antipodean hit, 2016’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, was a tale of misunderstood fugitives on the run, starring Sam Neill. This brief synopsis would also suit Sweet Country — though the two films could hardly be more tonally disparate.

Warwick Thornton’s 1920s-set Australian Western traces the fallout after a rancher is shot by an indigenous worker. As the latter flees, a cadre of gunslingers traverse the scorched plains to deliver retribution.

It’s an age-old story of cowboys and natives with all the traditional heroism and action drained out. Here we see cowards and fighters, reformers and brutes, all struggling to cope with a profound sense of malaise. Thornton doesn’t spare us from experiencing the oppressive heat and miasmic social climate.

An unbearably stifling watch at times, it still deserves to rank among the great modern Westerns.


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