The Turning

Out Now On-Demand

17 Australian directors from diverse artistic disciplines each create a chapter of the novel The Turning by Tim Winton. Overlapping stories explore the turning points of ordinary people's lives in a portrait of a small coastal community. The cast includes Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Hugo Weaving and Miranda Otto. Winton's 2005 novel has been previously adapted for the stage.

In what might be the ambitious undertaking of the year, The Turning is a compendium film in which seventeen Australian directors interpret Tim Winton’s beloved book. It’s a series of short films tied together by the characters who thread through the chapters, played by different actors in different incarnations.

Curated by producer and director Robert Connolly (Balibo), the films are liberally scattered with big names, both in front of and behind the camera. On the acting front Rose Byrne is exceptional as Rae, a woman battling through a dangerous relationship. Other star turns come courtesy of Cate Blanchett, Miranda Otto, Hugo Weaving and David Wenham.

Amongst the directors, Justin Kurzel’s (Snowtown) chapter alone makes the film worth seeing. Making the jump across from the side of the actors, Mia Wasikowska’s directorial debut is incredibly deft, and compellingly dark. Inevitably, some of the vignettes work better than others. Some feel faithful to the point of being literal - it’s the bolder, looser interpretations such as those from video artist Shaun Gladwell and Stephen Page (Bangarra Dance Theatre) that help to energise the film.

This is a project of stirring scope, and an off-beat philosophical bent. The overall effect is of a sprawling, largely alien landscape, bubbling over with tension, danger and lives of quiet desperation. It’s not a perfect film, instead it’s an odd conglomeration of different stories bound together by one place - and there you go, a metaphor.

Crikey (Australia)

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To paraphrase Howard Hawks: there are 18 good scenes, no bad ones.

Guardian (UK)

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Connolly and his collaborators have come up with something really special. Like a good compilation album it sticks with you as an organic whole and should reward repeat viewings.

At The Movies (Australia)

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In terms of its production and special event exhibition, The Turning is, overall, a very bold initiative.

Sydney Morning Herald

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Each episode ends abruptly, which jars as the film jumps from one segment to the next, with recurring characters reappearing as different actors. I all but gave up trying to follow who was playing who, midway through...