The Reel Review


A woman trapped in a loveless relationship starts a romantic affair with a handsome fisherman who’s poaching lobsters from her husband’s fishing waters along the coast of Western Australia, in this romantic drama starring Kelly Macdonald and Garrett Hedlund. It is based on the award-winning 2001 novel by Tim Winton.

Kelly Macdonald and Garrett Hedlund in Dirt Music

The best thing about this tedious, dull film adaptation is the remote, gorgeous vistas of Western Australia. Director Gregor Jordan’s visuals truly are breathtaking. Sadly, there just isn’t much else to enjoy – the screenplay from Jack Thorne (Wonder, Enola Holmes) about love, loss and grief is a pointless bore, with contrived dialogue and a strange, trope-filled plot that fails to connect emotionally, even when we eventually learn why the constantly shirtless Lu (Hedlund) is such a broken man.

Garrett Hedlund and Kelly Macdonald in Dirt Music

Macdonald and Hedlund (showing off singing and guitaring playing skills he learned for 2011’s Country Strong) are both fine actors, but despite their committed performances, this overly melodramatic screenplay, and its annoyingly silly third act fails to capture the psychological nuances of the popular novel.


• Heath Ledger and Rachel Weisz originally were set to star in a film adaptation of the novel, but the film was shelved after Ledger took the role in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Macdonald won the role in this adaptation despite heavy lobbying by Nicole Kidman for the part.

Dirt Music author Tim Winton created the film’s soundtrack with musician Lucky Oceans, incorporating bluegrass and classical music that could be played on a veranda without electricity – what he has nicknamed “dirt music.”

• Kelly Macdonald is best known for Brave, No Country for Old Men and Gosford Park.


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