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The Dry (2021) – Review: An Engaging Whodunit That’s Worth a Watch

August 15, 2021

Quick Thoughts – Grade – A The Dry is a wonderful example of how to tell a whodunit in under two hours. The Australian setting, and solid performance from Eric Bana, makes this a mystery worth watching.

Based on Jane Harper’s 2016 international best seller of the same name, The Dry tells the story of what happens when Aaron Falk (Eric Bana), a Melbourne based federal agent returns to his childhood home to attend the funeral of his friend Luke, who died in a murder-suicide that involved him killing his family and then shooting himself. Like all good mysteries, the locals aren’t happy to see him, as 20 years prior, he and his dad left the town because the locals suspected he and Luke were involved in the death of their classmate Ellie (Bebe Bettencourt). His initial overnight trip is extended when Luke’s parents convince him (by using a lot of guilt) to stay around and investigate whether Luke actually killed his family. During his investigation, he teams up with local sergeant Greg Raco (Keir O’Donnell) and their quest leads them face-to-face with dozens of hostile locals who still hold a grudge against him for his supposed misdeeds. Since it’s a mystery, Aaron also meets up with his old friend Gretchen (Genevieve O’Reilly), who clearly isn’t sharing everything she knows about the current murder, or what happened 20 years ago. 

What’s so great about The Dry is how it’s able to wrap up a murder mystery in two hours, and not feel like a fast-forwarded mystery condensed for time. The pacing is deliberate, yet never slow, and it’s neat watching Aaron deal with the “sins” of his past, while trying to figure out why the recent tragedy happened. All the actors put in strong work, and director Robert Connolly does a fine job of keeping the film moving while still allowing quiet moments that showcase the talents of his actors. The cinematography by Stefan Duscio (Jungle, The Invisible Man) might be the true MVP of the film as the wide shots of vast Australian terrain, and handheld work during tense situations give the movie a vice-like feeling of tension. To top everything off, the adapted script by Harry Cripps and Connolly doesn’t waste any time, but still allows The Dry to have all the time in the world to tell its mystery. It’s rare when a deliberately paced thriller feels like it’s moving at a breakneck pace, and that is really impressive. 

Final Thoughts The Dry is solid on every level, and if you are looking for a solid mystery, it doesn’t get much better.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 16, 2021 8:41 am

    Thanks for the review! Adding this one to the bucket list, at the top.

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