True History of the Kelly Gang – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning film that unfortunately left me feeling hollow at the

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Warning – Contains significant strobe lighting

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film

True History of the Kelly Gang. Image Credit: Stan.

True History of the Kelly Gang Review

Well, there are many aspects of Australian life I just don’t get, and one of those is the veneration of Ned Kelly. But then it does have the distinction of being the subject of the first feature film ever made. Today we look at a movie that explores the life of Ned Kelly, the true story of the bushranger … well maybe not the whole truth …or even a little bit of it.

So to set the scene, in 1867 Australia, and a young Ned Kelly (Orlando Schwerdt) is trying to find his place in a rural world with no education and a mother Ellen (Essie Davis) with an ‘interesting’ view of raising children. She sells the boy to  Harry Power (Russell Crowe) a bushranger who introduces the boy to the violent world, including shooting Sergeant O’Neill (Charlie Hunnam) a member of the constabulary. After spending time in jail and away from his family Ned (George MacKay) returns home and gets brought back into the world he once escaped.

True History of the Kelly Gang. Image Credit: Stan.
George MacKay is electric as Ned Kelly. Image Credit: Stan.

Well, there are many aspects of Australian life I just don’t get, and one of those is the veneration of Ned Kelly. But then it does have the distinction of being the subject of the first feature film ever made. Today we look at a movie that explores the life of Ned Kelly, the true story of the bushranger … well maybe not the whole truth …or even a little bit of it.

So to set the scene, in 1867 Australia, and a young Ned Kelly (Orlando Schwerdt) is trying to find his place in a rural world with no education and a mother Ellen (Essie Davis) with an ‘interesting’ view of raising children. She sells the boy to  Harry Power (Russell Crowe) a bushranger who introduces the boy to the violent world, including shooting Sergeant O’Neill (Charlie Hunnam) a member of the constabulary. After spending time in jail and away from his family Ned (George MacKay) returns home and gets brought back into the world he once escaped.

True History of the Kelly Gang. Image Credit: Stan.
True History of the Kelly Gang has one of the best supporting cast I have seen in a while. Image Credit: Stan.

While this is an incredibly stylish film, it feels like it often misses when it comes to the substance. The film references many different facets of Australian/English/Irish society of the time. Still, it rarely does more than reference them or use the visual iconography without exploring the symbolism. You see this in references to the Irish rebellion in the Sons of Sieve motif.  It also hints about the character’s lives but never wants to actually commit to what it is alluding to. This creates a visually stunning film but a film that I came away from feeling hollow.

In the end, do we recommend True History of the Kelly Gang? Well of this, I am not sure. There is a lot the film does well from a visual perspective, and this cast is phenomenal. However, for me, the narrative didn’t quite land where they hoped it would. If you liked True History of the Kelly Gang, I can also recommend to you The Dressmaker.     

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched True History of the Kelly Gang?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias, and you can follow us
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Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of True History of the Kelly Gang
Directed by
– Justin Kurzel
Screenplay by – Shaun Grant
Based onTrue History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
Music by – Jed Kurzel
Cinematography by – Ari Wegner
Edited by – Nick Fenton
Production/Distribution Companies – Porchlight Films, Daybreak Pictures, Memento Films, Screen Australia, La Cinéfacture, Film Victoria, Film4 & Stan
Starring – George MacKay, Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult, Essie Davis, Sean Keenan, Jacob Collins-Levy, Thomasin McKenzie, Charlie Hunnam, Claudia Karvan, Marlon Williams, Gentle Ben Corbett, Earl Cave, Louis Hewison, Orlando Schwerdt, Jack Charles    
Rating – Australia: MA15+; United Kingdom: 18; United States: R

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