BIFF Review: Hearts and Bones

Hugo Weaving makes a moving appearance in Hearts and Bones, co-written and directed by Ben Lawrence, a gorgeous character study of two people dealing with past experiences, their emotions and a fascinating overlap of two lives. This film is Lawrence’s first feature length nonfiction but appears to have the maturity of an artist with practise.

In the film, similar to the Paul Simon song of the same name, two men named Dan (Hugo Weaving) and Sebastian (Andrew Luri) endeavour on a journey to rediscover themselves after crossing paths later in life. Dan, a war photographer, is confronted by Sebastian, a South-Sudanese man, who asks Dan not to display the photos of the village he is from, which depict a massacre in which his family were murdered. Sebastian, as he puts it, does not want his people to be judged. Along this journey, their partners, Josie (Heyley McElhinney) and Anishka (Bolude Watson), rise and fall with the interactions of Dan and Sebastian, and the film becomes just as much about dealing with your emotions as it is about how past experiences impact the people around you. The ups and downs of Hearts and Bones were extremely moving and had me in tears at times.

Front and centre should be Andrew Luri’s debut performance. Luri delivered expertly throughout, especially in moments of high stress and emotion. Subsequently, the chemistry between Luri’s and Watson’s characters was a highlight. Their moments at home chatting was simply amazing to watch. In contrast, during tense scenes, the script faltered and arguments between Weaving and McElhinney’s characters lost the most, seeming too fast and unrealistic and a sudden break from the thoughtfulness the rest of the film displayed. Subsequently, some aspects of the story seemed to fall victim to the crowdedness of the plot, though never to the detriment of the overall picture. Additionally, at points when I thought I could see something coming, the film dodged these expectations nicely to present something slightly left of centre, a great descriptor of this unique story.

In an interview with the director I saw after watching the movie, a major plot point was mentioned. I think the film was much better without this knowledge, so I’d recommend staying away from such interviews. Nevertheless, I highly recommend Hearts and Bones. It’s beauty and uniqueness trumped minor issues I had and I haven’t let it leave my mind since viewing.


Promotional image obtained from: Sydney Film Festival (2019), Hearts and Bones.
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Liam Blair
Liam Blair
Articles: 34

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