Sunday, November 22, 2009

Out of the Blue (2006)

RECOMMENDED BY: ThisTimeItWillBeDifferent

On November 13, 1990 at roughly 7:30pm David Gray (Matthew Sunderland) shot and killed his neighbor. That night he would go on to indiscriminately kill a total of 13 men, women, and children in Aramoana, New Zealand. Out of Blue tells the story of the Gray, his victims, and the undermanned local police forced tasked with taking him down.

Knowing very little about the Aramoana massacre prior to entering Out of the Blue I must say it's a powerful, painful, and gripping story, with lots of heart and emotion. As a director Sarkies wonderfully captures the characters, both good and bad, involved in this heartbreaking tragedy. Best of all though is Sarkies willingness to bring us in to the life of Gray. Socially anxious, gun fanatic, and his flailing mental state, Sarkies spends much of the first first 40 minutes developing Gray as a character.

The only other characters we spend a lot of time with are Nick Harvey (Karl Urban), a local policeman, and Garry Holden (Simon Ferry), David's first victim. Once the tragedy begins we really spend a lot of time with reaction. The organization of the police, the elderly lady down the street, Helen Dickson (Lois Lawn) who tries to help an injured man. We seldom see the actual violence, almost always the lead up takes narrative precedent, while during the actual shooting we often see the expressions of onlookers. This is where lots of the real drama comes in. We watch parents seeing their children killed, and vice versa, at the hands of this vicious man, and it's hard to not get absorbed in.

Of course it doesn't hurt that Sarkies gets the right cast, filled with inexperienced actors who perfectly embrace their characters, United 93 style. My one complaint about the film is that we don't spend enough time with certain victims. For example officer Stu Guthrie (William Kircher) who posthumously won the George Cross for bravery is merely a 4th/5th lead and maybe takes up 15-20minutes of screen time. Though I understand Sarkies desire to spend most of his time with the survivors, and really get their reaction to the events, I do think it takes down the immediate emotional impact a notch or two. Of course when tasked to tell the story of the most violent day in your nations history, the impact is always a good place to start.

Powerful, gripping, and dark, the tale of the Aramoana massacre is well honored in the hands of director Robert Sarkies.

1 better thoughts:

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

Glad you liked this. I thought it was a very honourable depiction of the victims and the events of that day. Highly recommended to anyone who hasn't seen it.

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