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Red Hill

Red Hill (Patrick Hughes, 2010) Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tom E. Lewis; western

Definitely the best western made in Australia ... *

There's a limited number of Australian westerns in the modern sense, tho a large number of films about bushrangers. And after The Proposition, with its poor script (but very good cast) I wasn’t keen to see another. But now there is no doubt about the best Oz western ever: Red Hill. Everything about this film is excellent. We’ll be seeing more from this film-maker, I’m sure.

* ... before Mystery Road (Ivan Sen, 2013).

On the basis of this tough and slickly told thriller writer/editor and director Patrick Hughes will go far. The plot isn't exactly original, embracing as it does themes from both Bad Day at Black Rock and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith - with Tom E. Lewis virtually reprising his role from Fred Schepisi's film; but after a deliberately slow start the film gradually builds the suspense and eventually explodes into very well-staged action.
Classically photographed for the Scope screen, the film is a cleverly conceived genre piece and centres on a star-making performance from Ryan Kwanten as the city cop who finds country life far from peaceful. Steve Bisley is also terrific as the tough as guts police chief. David Stratton, At the Movies.

The dedication to the Western is complete with its marvellously evocative costume and production design, camera positions, shot selection, plot, music, horses - and even the names (Shane, Cooper, Slim, Earl, Rex), in a contemporary Australian country town setting. His holistic vision proves that genre films can take any bending or beating filmmakers dish out as long as they know the basic rules. Andrew Urban, Urban Cinefile.

Simple, yet complex, this striking contempo western about revenge, is an impressive calling card for Patrick Hughes in his writing and directing debut. Louise Keller, Urban Cinefile.

David Stratton of At the Movies gave the film four out of five stars and said "The plot isn't exactly original … but after a deliberately slow start the film gradually builds the suspense and eventually explodes into very well-staged action." Jeanette Catsoulis of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "Red Hill wears its clichés proudly and its violence with panache. Patrick Hughes directs and edits his own story with fanatical focus, while Tim Hudson's photography coaxes foreboding from every rust-brown shadow and desiccated blade of grass." Sandra Hall of The Sydney Morning Herald gave the film three out of five stars, saying "Rodriguez has made stuff like this work by demonstrating a healthy sense of self-parody. Hughes has yet to master that. You can also see his climactic plot twist looming from a great distance and these shortcomings add up to a portentousness jarringly at odds with the film's modest intentions."

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Garry Gillard | New: 22 October, 2012 | Now: 10 September, 2020