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FELL Into The Trees

Fell_704

Directed by Kasimir Burgess

Starring Matt Nable, Daniel Henshall

“Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest, and like a forest it’s easy to lose your way…to get lost…to forget where you came in.” Hattori Hanzo, Kill Bill

When his daughter is run over by a logging truck, Thomas’ (Matt Nable) life falls apart. In response he moves to a timber town and becomes a logger, while awaiting the release from prison of the truck driver, Luke (Daniel Henshall) with a terrible purpose in mind. However, even Thomas is unsure of the lengths he is willing to go to seek revenge – a revenge that is complicated further by the existence of Luke’s own daughter further reminding Thomas of his loss.

It is strong visual poetry that is the hallmark of Fell. With a script as taciturn as the timber cutters it portrays, much of the intent is shown in a series of dream like visuals that often bleed over into the real world. These are beautiful, powerful and haunting, told with an economy of style. Fell is reliant on these images, its strong use of diagetic sound, and the audience’s own interpretation to give this film meaning. As such it will not appeal to everyone, it is a film that expects the audience to do some heavy lifting. This is a task Fell doesn’t always succeed at, as its blurring of reality and imagery often times makes for an ambiguous message. However, if you can go with it, the payoff is significant.

In his first full length feature Kasimir Burgess presents an uncharacteristic view of the Australian landscape. So often we define ourselves in cinema by the dessert or farm, it is refreshing to see something that is distinctly Australian, but a lush green. So green, old and full of life that it threatens to swallow Thomas whole, leaving a hollowed shell in his place, filled with bitter purpose. This is often demonstrated by the jarring image of a business-suited Thomas often lost amongst a verdant forest. It is meant to be something ancient and harkening back to a fairytale-like morality (before they were cleaned up for general consumption).

Matt Nable is an open wound, oozing sorrow and pain into the world. A wound that is festering towards hate. It is a raw performance, full of broken disinterest in life with only revenge pushing him onwards. By contrast Daniel Henshall’s Luke is more carefree (at least on the surface), despite the burden he carries. Both of the roles have a depth to them,┬áneither is all one thing, and it is this ambiguity of purpose that Fell mines for its tension, especially when Thomas both literally and figuratively holds Luke’s life in his hands.

Burgess demonstrates a talent to be reckoned with in this beautiful and atmospheric piece, full of stunning visuals, powerfully understated performances, and meaning laden imagery. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you can go into the woods and stray from the path, a lush green world awaits full of primal power and anguish.

DAVID O’CONNELL

Fell screens at Somerville Auditorium from Monday, December 15, until Saturday, December 21, as part of Lotterywest Festival films. Go to perthfestival.com.au for more information.

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