An Australian survival film, with a gentle sense of humour. A group of refugees are people-smuggled to a remote beach on the Western Australian coast. (It looks like Western Australia, but the film was actually shot in South Australia!) The Iraquis go one way; the Vietnamese another. But in the end, an Iraqui engineer and a Vietnamese youth with an Australian father are forced to journey together with one of the people smugglers, while some larrikin Army reservists chase them.
It’s an excellent film, resisting easy classification, and Australian in a way thankfully different to most ‘Australian’ films. There are no white leads. The main characters are Middle Eastern, Asian, Aboriginal. It’s refreshing to see the Australian landscape through their eyes.
With so many different languages being spoken, the subtitles are crucial, and they’re well handled. Instead of being added on the bottom, they appear above the head of the character speaking. I guess this is only possible because of the big strips of barren landscape or sky that the text can go over the top of.
For me, the highlight of the film comes when the Iraqui engineer gets an ancient wreck of a ute going on three wheels and driving in reverse, sitting on top of the cabin like a ship.
The film is set in 1990; I can’t see any good reason why, except perhaps that the film starts in Vietnam 1972, with the youth’s father leaving his pregnant girlfriend. Perhaps left behind during the Vietnam War?