1983 / Director. Bill Bennett.
The Australian Film & Sound Archive has restored dozens of Australian films, many of which were thought lost. If there's one so deserving, it's Bill Bennett's Backlash, starring David Argue and Gia Carides. Sadly it has been forgotten to time and with such a powerful story and cultural relevance, it's a travesty. A young aboriginal woman is arrested for murder and two police officers are tasked with transporting her from a remote outback township to the city to await trial. The male copper is a bigoted, misogynist ocker while the female officer is a prudish, city slicker who sticks to the rules. Their chemistry is volatile and their hostility is amplified by the intense heat of the outback. They find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere and have to rely on their prisoner's knowledge of the land to survive. Doubt arises over her guilt and their beliefs and prejudices are challenged. This is a great film. It's written well and performed brilliantly. David Argue offers one of the most restrained yet potent performances of his career. At times scary, often hilarious and surprisingly gentle... it's one of my favourite of his roles. Gia Garides is solid also and their chemistry is wonderful. I don't now much about the film's backstory, only that there were some conflicts behind the camera between Bennett and his actors. I could be wrong but much of the naturalistic style of the performances feels improvised and I sense that the intense heat added to the fray. The copy I watched was a video transfer to DVD-R and while it's aged look added a charm all it's own, I would LOVE to see this film unearthed and remastered properly. It's worth seeking out.