Not the novel/film of the same name set in Thailand, but a brand new (premiered on the private plasma last night) ‘documentary’ film by and of Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah, Sweet Country, Mystery Road).
Thornton goes off by himself (except for a small film crew) with three chickens for company, to an isolated beach on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome WA for a period of solitary recuperation, cooking, maybe writing, introspection and exorcising some old mental baggage.
He arrives in his rusty Toyota convertible at a rough, idlyllic beach shack, and sets up his special kit of cooking gear and jars of ingredients in the basic kitchen, which becomes the centre of his universe for a month or two. Apparently sometimes called Wok, he has a big and a small one, and a special knife collection. Slowly we discover that the man can cook up a storm.
The film unfolds in sequential episodes over three hours, and it’s slow pace and beautiful cinematography is mesmerising, interspersed with conversations between Warwick and his chickens. His co-star, The Beach, with pristine (sorry for the cliche) waters, mangrove and sandy creek inlets is stunning, as are the sunsets over the ocean.
Warwick has some success foraging and hunting with his aboriginal spears, and gets some fine dishes going on his kitchen table. Apparently he always cooks as relaxation, when working elsewhere on his film making. So, it’s a kinda meditative cooking show gone remote bush, with a portrait of country and personal story-telling.
The film was made last year, but it somehow fits the recent pandemic lockdown zeitgeist (oh yeah!). It’s thoroughly captivating, and enough said, as you need to go on your own voyage of discovery with Warwick and his chooks. Unquestionably a five star rating from me.
Thanks for the review Peter – spot on. I acted upon your recommendation and have just watched it – mesmerising it is!