: Jack Irish: Black Tide

Jack Irish: Black Tide

Finian McGrath

jack-irish-black-tideDirected by: Jeffrey Walker; Starring: Guy Pearce, Marta Dusseldorp, Aaron Pedersen, Shane Jacobson; Distributor: Roadshow Entertainment, 2012.

‘Lawyer, gambler, debt collector – bloody great nuisance.’ Such a simple summary seems to suffice for those familiar with the literary instalment of Peter Temple’s ‘Black Tide,’ another in the famous ‘Jack Irish’ series. However for those unfamiliar, the ironic complexities of this ‘bloody great nuisance’ may come as a shock. If it is a simple, stereotypical ‘Aussie’ screenplay you are after, then this film is not for you.

As an avid reader of Temple’s ‘Jack Irish’ books, I struggled to see how such a convoluted series of events could be accurately portrayed in just 93 minutes. Jack is having trouble with his girlfriend, and his work, while his luck with the horses seems likely to take a dive. When presented the opportunity, Jack is happy to take on a missing person case for an old friend of his father — one of the few links to his nostalgic past. This is the start though of no end of trouble for the troublemaker himself. Among other things, Jack faces the feds, the mystery of a series of dead jockeys, not to mention dead leads at every turn and the might of a captain of industry — all the while hunted by a bevy of faceless men. The complex but exciting plot is brought to life through a combination of Matt Cameron’s writing, casting, cinematography and of course the masterful directing of Jeffrey Walker.

Much credit goes to Guy Pearce for his performance in the role of the somewhat puzzling Jack Irish. Pearce brought to the screen every element of Jack’s written character with ease. Jack’s every quirk and characteristic was played out seamlessly and the figurative ‘lone wolf’ that is Jack Irish seemed to come to life in Pearce. The all-star Australian cast must have been meticulously selected, as each actor suited their role as perfectly as Pearce did with Jack. Particularly noteworthy was the casting of Roy Billing as Harry Strang, my personal favourite Aaron Pedersen as Cam Delroy, Marta Dusseldorp as Linda Hillier and, somewhat idiosyncratically, the comical Shane Jacobson as Barry Treager.

Further to the flawless selection of the cast, the scenes were set perfectly in quintessential Australian locations. I particularly enjoyed the film’s commonplace reference to our cultural icons, identifying this film as unfailingly Australian.

Black Tide the film was true to the book, with character and poise in its delivery. I always enjoy a movie that refuses to be influenced by what I see as the typical Americanisms plaguing so much Australian television. Instead it focused on exposing the literary brilliance of Peter Temple through the work of some of Australia’s most talented actors. I recommend this film to all who enjoy a rollicking Australian yarn that will hold the viewer in suspense right to the end.

FINIAN McGRATH is a law student currently taking time off exploring remote Australian destinations.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 282
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