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Twin Rivers – film review

October 25, 2019


A little-known Aussie gem rescued from obscurity.

Reviewed on Sunday 20th October 2019

Directed & produced by Matthew Holmes. Written by Matthew Holmes, Meredith Resce and Pete Court. Starring: Darren Holmes, Matthew Holmes, Robyn Dickinson and Joshua Jaeger. Running time: 107 mins.

In 1939, as Europe is plunged into the uncertainty of a Second World War, two young brothers (William and Tom) embark on a five hundred mile trek across the Australian outback – seeking to pursue a better life in Melbourne. Along the way, they come to appreciate the importance of familial loyalty and the true meaning of mateship.

Prior to helming his second feature – the epic western The Legend of Ben Hall (released in 2016) – Melbourne-based filmmaker Matthew Holmes cut his teeth with an Adelaide visual effects company producing stop-motion animation – before throwing himself into this, his first feature – the live-action period drama Twin Rivers. Being out of print on DVD for at least a decade, Holmes’ remarkable feature debut has been virtually impossible to find. Now, thanks to a recently (and highly successful) Kickstarter campaign, this little-seen indie gem has been lovingly remastered in hi-def and is finally available for rediscovery and a new wave of appreciation.

Almost entirely self-funded (hence the prolonged stop-start production over the best part of a decade), Twin Rivers is something of a major achievement. Originally completed and released on DVD in 2007, the film took six years to make – having been shot on and off over a period of four years (with an additional two years of post). A real passion project to say the least. And this passion is evident in every frame.

Told from the point of view of an aged William reminiscing about events in his past (with voice-over narration written by Rolf de Heer and voiced by Edwin Hodgeman) – the focus of the story is moreso on William than it is Tom. And despite being non-professional actors (as is the rest of the young cast) – real life brothers Matthew and Darren Holmes (playing Tom and William respectively) – do a suburb job in fleshing out these characters; the sense of history between them is palpable. The authenticity of the interactions between these two makes for some truly compelling scenes – particularly when conflict arises in the second half. Also very good is Joshua Jaeger in the pivotal role of Jack – a man whose downward spiral perhaps has the greatest impact on William. Jaeger undoubtedly gives the best performance in the film.

And speaking of authenticity – the evocation of the period setting is brilliantly realized, especially considering the film’s limited budget. From props and costumes, hair and makeup to the locations and vintage vehicles – the attention to detail is truly impressive.

Also impressive is the editing of the film (credited to Edward Tresize) – particularly during some of the more emotionally intense scenes toward the end. The excellent score by Michael Taylor also does much to augment the emotional impact.

As he showcased so adeptly with his subsequent feature The Legend of Ben Hall, Holmes has an almost supernaturally innate ability to block, stage and shoot scenes in such a precise manner – an audience can’t help but be engaged. His direction is quite simply world class – and I keenly look forward to what he does next with great anticipation.

4 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

From → film reviews

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