Run time: 125 mins
The 19th-century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly is given a punk-rock update in Justin Kurzel’s bruising historical drama.
Based on Peter Carey’s 2001 novel, The film is carved into three sections, titled “Boy”, “Man” and “Monitor”, each of which takes in a key period of Kelly’s brief but seismic existence. In the first, young Ned watches his mother Ellen (Essie Davis) ply a swaggering British sergeant (Charlie Hunnam) with sexual favours, possibly from necessity. Then at 14, foul-mouthed highwayman Harry Power (Russell Crowe) takes on the boy as an apprentice, which all but locks in his fate. Many have played Kelly in the past (including Mick Jagger & Heath Ledger) but George MacKay confidently stands above them all with a blistering, Mad Max-like performance as adult Kelly. Intense and vulnerable in both but perhaps even topping his leading role in 1917. Both so different.
Kurzel displayed both beauty and intensity with his take on Macbeth earlier, and this, his latest gets under your nails; images linger for weeks in the memory and, for however much the film deals with myth and history, it feels incredibly immediate. (research Jack Whiting) Another end to end Aussie cracker not to be missed.