Director: Craig Monahan
Cast: Don Hany, Hugo Weaving, Xavier Samuel, Tony Martin, Jane Menelaus, Mark Winter, Anthony Hayes
Duration: 119 mins
Rating: M – Coarse language
Release Date: 8 May, 2014
The Movie Advisor verdict: A rare beast. See it.
Anna Solding for InDaily says: ” This powerful film is about prison officer Matt Perry (wonderfully played by Hugo Weaving) and the prisoners he appoints to be in charge of a birds-of-prey project at a low-security facility in the country. Don Hany (best known for his television work in Serangoon Road, Offspring and Underbelly) is perfect as Viktor Khadem, an Iranian who appears a broken man after 18 years in jail for murder. However, his relationship with the birds – a majestic wedgetail eagle named Yasmin, in particular – changes him and sets him on the path of redemption.
Through their work with the birds, these prisoners open up and begin to move on in their lives. Perry comes to the project with as much baggage as the inmates and subsequently ends up being changed in similar ways. The close-ups of the birds are absolutely spell-binding and the surroundings in rural Victoria are stunning.
This collaboration between director Craig Monahan (who also directed the interesting The Interview) and Academy Award-winning cinematographer Andrew Lesley (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) makes for fascinating viewing. Where this film could easily have stayed superficial or strayed into clichéd territory, it manages to build up the characters up, trusting the audience to stay for the ride. It is a delight to behold.
The unusual subject matter, the realistic and at times humorous dialogue (which gives the film a distinctly Australian flavour), and strong performances from Hany and Weaving indicate Healing might become the Australian blockbuster of the year. It is without a doubt the best Australian film I have seen for years.
At the Movies says: “This is possibly the most sentimental prison movie I’ve ever seen. And I was so grateful. It’s really lovely. The performances are fabulous, Don Hany who’s established such a fine credibility on television productions like East West 101 and The Broken Shore, is ravaged and old here, as well as fine. Hugo Weaving has to be the most stoic and solid performer in this country, he’s just always great. He plays a man with his own issues in this. But all the performances are solid, Jane Menelaus as the wildlife expert, Tony Martin as Matt’s colleague, Justine Clark as a social worker and Anthony Hayes as a controlling inmate. But the real kudos here goes to Andrew Payne who was the bird handler on the film. He’s a star and so are the birds.” (Margaret – 4 stars, David – 3 stars)
Variety says: “It’s refreshing to see a film that takes its own sweet time building characters and the subtle conflicts simmering among them. Led by the familiar and bankable Weaving, the cast, under Monahan’s sure guidance, deftly underplays what could have been, in other hands, an awkward melodrama.”