Matt Nable’s performance in the 2012 mini-series Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms gave us our first real taste of the ex-rugby leaguer’s impressive acting abilities. While he’s been equally as good as a supporting character in films like The Turning and Son of a Gun, it’s his lead performance as Thomas in Fell that cements Nable as one of this country’s most incredible acting talents.
Nable is fiercely intense and bitterly emotional as a father whose daughter is hit by a logging truck during a camping trip deep within a Tasmanian forest. While his daughter lies in a pool of blood, Daniel Henshall’s cowardly truck driver, Luke, flees the scene leaving Thomas to listen to his daughter take her last breath.
Shedding his identity as a suburban businessman Thomas takes on the persona of a blue-collar logger and is employed by the same group of fellers his daughter’s convicted killer once worked for. He’s waiting for him to be released from prison and return to his old job – a perfect opportunity for revenge.
Director Kasimir Burgess joins a long line of Australian filmmakers graduating from admirable short film careers to feature films in 2014. With a multilayered script by Natasha Pincus (a Blue Heelers actress, among other producer/directing/writing credits), Burgess’ debut is haunting, visually stunning and expertly crafted. He has managed to transform the resplendent surroundings of a Tasmanian forest into a claustrophobic landscape – a naturally fitting set for his tale of redemption.
Capturing Fell’s hypnotic beauty is accomplished cinematographer Marden Dean who also shot this year’s The Infinite Man. Fell is a completely different beast compared to the bright, sunshine soaked world of Hugh Sullivan’s time-travel comedy which demonstrates Dean’s aptness for his craft.
Another technical marvel comes from Burgess’ sound department. I can’t remember a breath, a footstep, a nose-whistle or heartbeat having this much impact in an Australian film, ever. It’s a great testament to Burgess’ attention to detail.
While almost everything about Fell is flawless there are a few letdowns – one being Jacqueline McKenzie’s unnecessary appearance as Thomas’ wife, Rachel. She comes and goes so quickly and under such uncomfortable circumstances you wonder why her one scene wasn’t left on the cutting room floor, presumably with the remainder of her role.
As Luke, Daniel Henshall ads to his resume of creepy, evil characters. He’s breathtaking here as a man who makes a mistake and pays the price for it. While you expect that price to be a little more ultimate Fell takes you on an unexpected journey that’ll keep you hooked until the very end. It’ll be a genuine contender come AACTA time.
Directed by: Kasimir Burgess
Starring: Matt Nable, Daniel Henshall, Eddie Baroo
Review by: Matthew Eeles