Tuesday, December 6, 2011

At the Movies with Bebb...Part Two...Murder in the Outback

Well, it's Wednesday and you know what that means...aside from it now being two weeks until the end of the school term...yay summer holidays...It's movie review day here at Bebb and the Bubs. I wanted to review one of my favourite movies but I decided that I shouldn't only review movies that I think are wonderful. So here we go with...

The Joanne Lees Story

I'm sure everyone remembers the Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio case. In 2001, the two British backpackers were travelling through the Northern Territory in a Kombi van when they were accosted by a man in a ute, who presumably shot and killed Peter Falconio and attempted to abduct Joanne Lees. She escaped from the back of his ute and hid in bushland, still tied up, for several hours before flagging down a road train. Though blood was found by the road, Peter Falconio's body was never found and Joanne consequently endured a trial by media and the Australian public, many of whom thought she was involved in Peter's death as she did not behave like a 'true victim'. In 2005, Bradley Murdoch was charged with the crimes and is serving a 28 year sentence.

I rented this movie as I had recently re-read Joanne Lees' book, No Turning Back, and was interested to see it portrayed on screen. I have never had any doubts regarding her story and was hoping the movie would follow the same path as the book. However, I was quite disappointed. The lead actor, Joanne Froggatt, is a good actress and I enjoyed watching her as Anna the head housemaid on the television series Downton Abbey. Froggatt did the best she could with the material given to her, but it annoyed me that so many mistakes and ommissions were present in this movie. They had the basic facts there but I feel they could have done a much better job. The media at the time portrayed Joanne Lees as not behaving like a 'true victim' as she did not cry in public and appeared too strong. (How is a 'true victim' supposed to behave anyway? Where is that written?) However, upon reading her book one learns that of course she wept and despaired, but is by nature a private person and wanted to hold it together when on public view. Adding to that, she had been through a worse event than many of us can imagine and was in shock. One of my main issues with the film is that they portrayed her as being strong, cold and distant both in public and in private. They also portrayed her as being quite alone and isolated during the investigations and trial. I'm not sure what the reasons for this were, but the book details the friends and family members she had by her side at all times, beginning a few days after the crime occurred.

One scene I feel they did well on was the scene involving the actual crime itself. It is difficult to comprehend the sheer terror Joanne Lees would have felt and Joanne Froggatt really nailed this. When she stopped the road train and was screaming for the driver to help her, I was moved to tears as I could imagine how desperate and hysterical she would have felt in that moment. I also liked the depiction of her relationship with Peter- we only saw Peter (Laurence Breuls) in a few scenes but there was chemistry between them and they did a good job of portraying a loving young couple on an adventure together.  

This film was made-for-television and though there were some good cast members I'm not surprised it flew somewhat under the radar. I'm also somewhat astonished that they went ahead with the film without consulting Joanne Lees at all. Reportedly she did not want to be involved and did not want it to go ahead, and I find it strange that a writer, director etc can hope to accurately capture how a person thinks and feels without speaking to them or even sticking to known facts. I'd suggest that if you want to learn more about this case, you read Joanne's well-written, no-holds-barred book and leave the movie alone.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (mainly for the acting).

1 comment:

  1. Yay! It's At the Movies Night!! It's great reading a new movie review every week and it also reminded me Margaret and David were on tonight as I had forgotten! Lol! It was a great book based on a very interesting story...