JINDABYNE (Ray Lawrence). 123 minutes. Opens Friday (May 11). Rating: NN Rating: NN
Director Ray Lawrence 's third effort practically dares Robert Altman fans to rise up in arms. After all, why base a film on Raymond Carver 's story So Much Water So Close To Home when it was already perfectly adapted in Altman's Short Cuts? Besides adding a racial element to the mix, Lawrence's unexceptional film brings nothing new to the table.
When mechanic Stewart ( Gabriel Byrne ) and three Australian fishing buddies discover the body of a murdered Aborigine woman in the river, they decide to ignore it until their weekend is over. When the friends return home, the town is appalled by their lack of action, and Stewart's wife ( Laura Linney ) begins to question their marriage.
While Carver's piece took place in the U. S., Lawrence and screenwriter Beatrix Christian use Australia's vast landscape to add a touch of foreboding to the already dark plot. Unfortunately, they also throw in a serial killer subplot with shades of Wolf Creek and an overwhelming number of ill-defined secondary characters.
Lawrence's direction is hypnotically atmospheric but becomes tedious in the conveniently pat third act. The film works best when focusing on Linney's searing performance as a woman coming to terms with her husband's dark side.