The film tells the twisted story of Jeremy, a man on the run who seeks refuge on a remote island following the murder of his sister. With blood on his own hands he finds himself hunted by a crooked cop who also happens to be the killer's father. In a desperate bid to disappear Jeremy holds up on a property where he befriends the landowner and his daughter-in-law.
It's a migraine-inducing storyline that fails to resonate in print, yet succeeds triumphantly on screen, and if that synopsis is lost on you then rest assured that BURNS POINT offers a story that flows fluidly while being packed with the sort of complexity that good film-noirs are made of. There are plot devices scattered throughout that provide various degrees of character development and make it very hard to describe without giving too much away.
It comes as no surprise that such a humble film as this would boast so much grandeur when you discover that its makers come from a television background. Writer/Producer Chris Blackburn comes to the project from a 20-year career in TV and has produced programs such as Big Brother, The Gruen Transfer and My Kitchen Rules, while his son – director – Tim Blackburn is a television editor in Canada. It would seem that their media experience has given them an edge that few other first time feature-filmmakers would have, and as a result they have hand-crafted an intelligent thriller that recalls the work of John Sayles (Limbo, Lone Star) and Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return, Laviathan).
The first striking quality of BURNS POINT is its cinematography. With a nicely framed opening wide shot cinematographer Kent Marcus reassures the viewer that they're in capable hands, and from that moment the film plays out in a beautifully stylised way, with as much attention given to the landscape as is given to the characters. The camera captures the unfolding drama in a dignified manner and resists the temptation to exploit the cliched shaky-cam style. We watch the events unfold through a series of controlled panning shots, arial perspectives and anchored observation. All of which is accompanied by an effectively understated score that provides the type of mood you might expect from a Coen Brothers film. And the editing... it's tight. Tim Blackburn has applied his craft brilliantly and knows precisely how much to reveal, and how much to conceal. Given his capacity as a TV editor, this is perhaps the film's biggest strength.
The cast is comprised of seasoned television actors including Ron Kelly (Sea Patrol, Voyage of the Dawn Trader), Francesca Bianchi (House Husbands) and John Rado (Silent Witness, Borgias). They all give strong turns and understand the confines of the production... that is to say that they keep their performances suitably low-key, in line with the overall ambience of the film, and allow their lead actor Andrew Lowe (in his feature film debut) to shine. He carries the film confidently and gives the story much of its integrity.
BURNS POINT is a well made dramatic thriller that offers a unique setting to a classic genre, and it has come at a time when other similarly-styled Aussie films have failed (ah-hem Goldstone.. ah-hem The Daughter). It is a viscerally appealing film that will hopefully mark the beginning of a long and audacious career for Tim Blackburn.