Burning Man

Burning Man

(MA) Transmission DVD/BD

This is one of those slow burn dramas (excuse the pun) that Australian directors do so well.

Writer/director Jonathan Teplitzky has crafted an excellent and intimate film about a man who is burdened by a painful past and tends to make those around him pay for it.

Tom (Matthew Goode) – an English chef working in Bondi — is a prickly character getting over some memories that have left lasting emotional scars.

Clever imagery in the opening frames has Tom caught in a car accident and all the groceries in the car raining down on him. This is of course is a metaphor for what transpires in the film, but food is also used cleverly to trigger snippets of memory – good and painful – as the film progresses.

The film is structured in a non-linear fashion, jumping around (and is masterfully edited) but carefully builds Tom’s story up layer by layer. In this way despite the films bravado, risqué drama and its tendency to become maudlin in the first half, it’s soulful centre is revealed carefully and intimately as the film progresses.

The most clever aspect of the film is the use of food as a metaphor for memory, some to eat and relish, others to cast away and forget. Amplified in the opening scene and then carried through the film, this is a clever device that helps the film pivot around Tom’s axis. Memories – good and not so good — are triggered as Tom works in the kitchen. This is an amazing visual device that drives the narrative of the film and helps build an intimate portrait of its main character.

As the subject of the film, Matthew Goode’s performance is admirable. In a role that slowly builds sympathy, he is able to carry off the early hedonistic scenes and the emotionally charged moments, humanising and endearing the viewer to his character.

The film is rated for its intense content, but rest assured Burning Man is a compassionate, intimate, innovative drama that shouldn’t be missed.

Adrian Drayton

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