The novels of award winning Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas’ have become televisual and cinematic ‘hot property’ for adaptation. The Slap won a slew of audience and critical praise (and AACTA awards) earlier this year. Now his other award-winning novel DEAD EUROPE has been adapted for the cinema by Australian Director Tony Krawitz (Jewboy, The Tall Man). This tense, revelatory account of uncovering family history laced with guilt and dark secrets makes for an engaging and enigmatic film.Isaac (Ewen Leslie) a photographer is heading abroad to exhibit his photography when his father dies in a car accident. Isaac goes against his family’s wishes and uses his trip to deliver his fathers ashes to his ancestral home; where at every turn, he’s stalked by talk that his father (and he inturn) is cursed.
Ewen Leslie is terrific as the intelligent and pragmatic Greek-Australian sceptic Isaac. He’s contemplative, and totally detached from the ‘old world’ superstitious ways. Leslie’s Isaac is the modern world; fluid sexuality, drugs, atheist but ultimately burdened with weight of the past.Kodi Smit-McPhee’s mysterious teen is further evidence testament to the young mans talent. He may be the only child actor that I’ve seen demonstrate the same promise throughout his adolescence.
Krawitz presents Greece, Paris and finally Budapest as ominous collections of collective consciousness. There’s an ethereal quality of the occupants of the city’s through Krawitz’s lens that makes you feel like you’re surrounded by wholly hostile and spiritual forces. The deep vein of tribal bigotry and religious prejudice makes even the sublime beauty of the Grecian mountains wary. There’s a muted and cold colour palette throughout.
DEAD EUROPE mesmerised me. It was rich, engaging and the right blend of superstition and mystery to keep you guessing.
Directed by: Tony Krawitz
Written by: Louise Fox
Starring: Ewen Leslie, Marton Csokas and Kodi Smit-McPhee