Mixed responses in the UK to ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’

02 March, 2020 by Don Groves

(L-R) Earl Cave, Essie Davis, Justin Kurzel and George MacKay at the UK premiere.

Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang opened in the UK last Friday, drawing mostly enthusiastic reviews but lukewarm interest from moviegoers.

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Picturehouse launched the subversive bushranger movie adapted by Shaun Grant from the Peter Carey novel on 93 screens, generating £155,000 ($A302,000) and £170,000 ($A332,000) including previews in three days.

Kurzel and stars Essie Davis, George MacKay and Earl Cave attended the charity premiere at Picturehouse Central last Tuesday, which raised £4,000 ($7,900) for the Country Fire Authority of Victoria to help fight the bushfires in the region.

Porchlight Film’s Liz Watts, Daybreak Pictures’ Hal Vogel, Kurzel and Paul Ranford produced the film which had an abbreviated theatrical release here before the Stan Original premiere, grossing $116,000,

Evidently few moviegoers took much notice of the critics such as The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey, who observed: “Director Justin Kurzel, after an unsatisfying dip into mainstream filmmaking with 2016’s Assassin’s Creed, here returns to what he does best: sparse, violent and hallucinatory visions of mankind’s unchecked rage.

“As the inevitable, deathly end to his story arrives, a profound sense of tragedy hangs in the air.”

In The Times Kevin Maher hailed a “a bleakly beautiful primal scream…Extremely violent, this outlaw yarn ultimately has a sensitive soul.”

The Financial Times’ Danny Leigh described the film as a “bloody, woozy, teasing telling of the Ned Kelly story, a cult movie in waiting.”

More equivocal was The Critic magazine’s Christopher Silvester, who opined, “As an Aussie might say, Kurzel seems to have a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock. The film is partially in period and partially not, like an avant-garde student production — or perhaps the budget for costumes just ran out.

“The production design and art direction make real locations seem almost abstract, while the brooding score creates a mood of angst and hopelessness.”

IFC Films will launch the film in the US on April 24. Memento is handling international sales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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