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The 19th-century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly is given a rock’n’roll makeover in Justin Kurzel’s swaggering, defiantly ahistorical drama. Based on Peter Carey’s 2001 Booker prize-winning novel, it splits Kelly’s story into three parts: “Boy”, “Man” and “Monitor”, the third chapter referring to his time as a self-appointed bush ranger. Orlando Schwerdt plays the young Kelly, innocence soured having seen too much, while British actor George MacKay is his unruly adult counterpart.
Kurzel begins the film with an image of Kelly writing a letter to his unborn child (it was a myth that Kelly was illiterate). “Every man should be the author of his own history,” instructs his mentor, Harry Power (Russell Crowe). And so the Adelaide-born Kurzel playfully rewrites one of his country’s most persistent cultural figures, adding a homoerotic subtext that undermines the idea of Kelly as a macho folk hero. This Kelly is motivated by an oedipal complex and wears dresses to distract his opponents; The Babadook’s Essie Davis is equal parts fearsome and magnetic as his enterprising sex worker mother. More enjoyable still are the film’s corrupt policemen; the louche, stockinged, pipe-smoking Constable Fitzpatrick (Nicholas Hoult) and virile cartoon villain Sergeant O’Neil (Charlie Hunnam).
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: True History of the Kelly Gang review – rock’n’roll makeover of an Aussie outlaw | Film