Dry Winter: Australian Film Review

Jake (Andrew Phillips), Kelly (Courtney Kelly), and Liam (Michael Harapas) in Dry Winter, 2021.

Kyle Davis’ debut featurette is a bold, slice-of-life depiction of a couple on the edge of breakdown. 

Jake (Andrew Phillips) and Kelly (Courtney Kelly) are a young couple in regional South Australia, living out their days in an opportunity-starved town. They live off the beaten track and often have little to fill the gaps between dawn and dusk. The pair see their friends, race cars, take care of their dogs, and go to parties. A drought has made their lives all the more difficult as opportunities for work become few and far between.

Jake and his friend Liam (Michael Harapas) turn to ice use to pass the time, and Kelly becomes increasingly distant. The couple must decide how long they can go on filling their days with empty moments, and whether or not it’s time to move on.

At sixty-three minutes, Dry Winter is punchy and compelling. Made by a crew of Flinders University graduates, it explores a transitional stage of life and its characters move around the edge of society and the edge of time – in many ways they have been forgotten by both.

Shot entirely on the Eyre Peninsula, the film is both visually beautiful and devastatingly sparse. The cast of entirely non-actors are followed in an observational, pseudodocumentary style that revels in its authenticity and creates a moving image of hazy slowness to juxtapose the eventual moment of devastating clarity.

Dry Winter moves like a series of photographs of a couple, each one becoming less languid and more intense. The viewer sees everything, from the subtle, loving moments, to the harsh, lengthy silences.

We are flies on the wall as the film reminds the viewer that everything decays and comes to an end, and that ultimately this story ended before we were even invited to watch.

After a positive reception at the 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival, Dry Winter is now streaming on Mubi.


Tom Loudon
Tom Loudon

Tom (he/him) is a Meanjin/Brisbane based writer and the Editor in Chief at Glass Media. He has a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts (Creative Writing) and is currently studying Communications (Journalism) at QUT.

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