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CORROBOREE (director/writer: Ben Hackworth; screenwriter: Peter Savieri; cinematographer: Katie Milwright; editor: Cindy Clarkson; music: Robert Mackenzie; cast: Conor O’Hanlon (Conor), Rebecca Frith (Dr. Elsja), Natasha Herbert (Lena), Ian Scott (Director, Joe), Margaret Mills (Anne), Susan Lyons (Verna); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Matteo Bruno; IFC Films; 2007-Australia)
I never could warm up to its aesthete murkiness, as it kept things purposely weird and not fully revealing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title is derived from a form of sacred rights performed by Australian Aborigines to acknowledge big life events. The word was coined by European settlers. This pretentious mysterious drama explores an Alice in Wonderland-like journey of self-discovery. It marks the directorial debut of Ben Hackworth.

An acclaimed dying theater director named Joe (Ian Scott) reenacts key moments from his life at the lush country estate that serves as a meditation retreat, where he has come to spend his last days. His usual actresses will portray characters from the director’s past, beginning with his childhood and into his young adulthood and finally his middle age. The star of the production is a young hunky actor named Conor (Conor O’Hanlon), who we follow traveling there by bus in the pic’s opening. Conor’s been recruited by the director to play him and receives his cues via pre-recorded messages. Other than that Conor is clueless to what’s going down (like the viewer) but gets into the production with a little help from the actresses, as he appears in various rooms at specific time periods with the five different actresses.

The off-beat experimental film should appeal to the art-house crowd. It looked to me like a film school project, trying hard to be something radically different and catchy. It’s a film that thinks of itself as profound, but I found it only impenetrable. I never could warm up to its aesthete murkiness or its oft-putting meanderings, as it kept things purposely weird and not fully revealing. Whatever profundity might have been there eluded me, as I never could care about any of the characters and lost concentration early on. It was just not my kind of film, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s terrible–just that I didn’t care for it.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”