With so many of the major cinema releases like No Time to Die, Dune and The Batman all being pushed back in 2021 and beyond, movies like Dirt Music and the more intimate stories they tell have a unique opportunity to shine.
Developed from Australian author Tim Winton’s novel of the same name, Dirt Music is about two lonely souls who fall in love, connecting over their troubled pasts and the effects of our harsh western coast on their wellbeing.
Georgie (Kelly Macdonald) unexpectedly meets the nomadic and mysterious Lu Fox (Garrett Hedlund), whose pained eyes and aloof charm quickly lure her in. Indulging in their shared hardships and Georgie’s inability to connect to her hard-minded husband Jim (David Wenham), the pair form a bond reminiscent of a summer holiday romance or teen fling – but with much higher stakes.
Like other Tim Winton tales before it (Breath, Cloudstreet), Dirt Music delves into the pain of the human experience and lingers there. As one friend put it, “he finds our wounds and digs his finger right into them, rummaging around to see what he can find”.
On screen, it makes for characters whose secrets you want to find out: why are they in pain? How come it still has a hold on them? Will love be able to help them heal?
In real life though, lingering in our pain is a far more toxic pastime. You know the allure of Lu’s sandy blond hair and tanned glow would surely wear off as you’re exposed to his mumbling disinterest in life.
Yet, Georgie and Lu fill a void of connection in each other’s lives, and that’s what Dirt Music is about: finding someone to share in your sorrows and help you hope for more.
We all need that connection – and it’s understandable why the pair strives toward it, but sadly they go about getting it in some really unhealthy ways.
From cultivating their relationship in isolation, to abandoning their existing connections and glamorising an affair that would be truly heartbreaking, Lu and Georgie only add to their pain by pursuing each other. Their love is fierce and romantic, but it’s also destructive, and they have to work out if it’s worth it.
The more appealing star of Dirt Music is the dramatic beauty of Western Australia.
So much of the story of our country is in its land, and there’s no better setting for what unfolds between Lu and Georgie than the demanding character of our weather-beaten western coast.
It’s rare to see our country – even more so the red parts of it, stretched out across a movie screen and my goodness they’re gorgeous. Frightening and dry, but stunning.
If it’s taken the delaying of so many other movies for us to appreciate that, then Bond’s displacement is worth it.
Fans of romance movies be advised, Dirt Music is no Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook or Dear John. It’s gritty, painful and stained with blood, sweat and tears, making it one for mature audiences only.
Dirt Music is in cinemas October 8.