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Legend of Ben Hall, The (Matthew Holmes, 2016) wr. Matthew Holmes, prod. Michael Favell, Russell Cunningham, Matthew Holmes, Jessica Pearce, exec prod. Greg McLean, dp Peter Szilveszter; Jack Martin (Ben Hall), Callan McAuliffe, Andy McPhee, Arthur Angel, John Orcsik, Joanne Dobbin, Adam Willson, Jamie Coffa, William Lee, Angus Pilakui, Jordan Fraser-Trumble, Gregory Quinn; historical drama; Oz release 1 Dec 2016
I could say, with equal truth, that The Legend of Ben Hall looks fantastic for the money, and that the lack of money is the reason it doesn't look good enough. It might also be true that more money would not have fixed the problems inherent in the script – the overstatement, the exposition, the lack of depth in characterisation. Paul Byrnes, Canberra Times.
Jason di Rosso:
The acting suffers from an unevenness in tone, especially in the dialogue. Amid the film's assortment of inn keeps, coppers and convicts, the older actors are better equipped to imitate colonial toffs and bog Irishmen than the younger ones, who often fall into the suburban vowels of Home and Away.
The inconsistency is sometimes jarring, and reminds you you're watching something closer to John Ford fan fic than John Ford. Jason di Rosso, ABC.
Visually, the film is more persuasive. The townships, inns, homesteads and settlements all have a lived-in look. And the rituals and routines of frontier life are equally convincing. Holmes is also careful to ensure that his script true to the chronology of Hall's final months but it meanders, confusing action with mere movement. The pulse does not race.
There's a story here somewhere but I suspect the nub of it is at the beginning of Hall's bushranging career, rather than the end. Whatever the truth of it, Holmes is too tentative in his attempts to tease it out. Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald.
Writer/director Matthew Holmes steers and controls the film's tone with a single minded focus that serves the film well, appealing to the serious historian and invested film lover. Every aspect of the story - from the crimes to the romances - is managed with sensitivity and dedication. I might have preferred a tad more pace, but perhaps that's just impatience. ... Andrew Urban, urbancinefile.
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