Eric Bana may get his name in the light of the marquee, but the tension that arises in director Robert Connolly’s adaptation of Jane Harper’s bestselling novel, The Dry, comes from the drought-ridden countryside of the rural Victoria becomes a living, breathing character in the film

Connolly receives great support in this task from cameraman Stefan Duscio, who was also behind the camera for the visually appealing Aussie film from 2019, Judy & Punch

For those who haven’t read the book, which was selected as an option prior to release by Australian producer Bruna Papandrea (The Nightingale, Big Little Lies), the story centers around Federal Police agent Aaron Falk (Bana) who is returning to the country where he grew up to attend a funeral

Not just any funeral, mind you – it’s the ceremony for his best buddy in high school who apparently shot his wife and child before he turned the gun on himself

Needless to say, the small community is shaken by the violence and Falk will soon be forced to do a little digging to see if there is more to this open case than meets the eye

But it’s not just the recent wounds that are being reopened with Falk’s investigation – his own troubled past in the city is nowhere near forgotten by the locals, some of whom are all too keen after a few foams take a dip at the Fed in the pub

Bana’s return down under is welcomed in his first Australian film since 2007, Romulus, My Father The Dirty John star has a steely, reserved demeanor that goes well with the figure

Irish actor Genevieve O’Reilly is as good as Falk’s childhood friend Gretchen, while the rest of the ensemble, including John Polson and Miranda Tapsell, perform well in the smaller roles

In classic crime thriller fashion, Connolly teases the audience here and there with a red herring and a series of characters who seem to hide all motives and something

The director who gave us the hit Paper Planes in 2014 is also good at managing a hefty dose of flashbacks that mostly work out the story without detracting from the rising action of the present

Most of all, it’s wonderful to see an actor of Bana’s caliber in a local production

All too often we see our talent for Hollywood take off and only come back after their star has darkened significantly

Money is a big part of it, of course, but hopefully the quality of The Dry inspires other actors to follow Bana home

Eric Bana

World news – AU – Eric Banas The Dry could draw stars to Aus