I’m not sure how closely I’m supposed to adhere to these dot point questions. I am liking my current method of ‘rant and pray.’ Hope you’re not expecting any variety in form – I’m pretty much just gonna go with what works.
Right. Lena. The identity thereof.
Lena sees the aboriginal half of her heritage as the one she was brought up in. She lives in Australia with her aboriginal mother. Her world is based on her mother’s side. And she hates her world. So she hates her mother. She rejects this side of herself because in her mind it is linked to her rural wasteland home and her rural pre-written life. So she hits the road looking for her father, who has become in his absence a symbol of escape, freedom. A better life. Sen comments on the disadvantage in quality of life experienced by many Aborigines in Australia today. Lena’s depressed view of her life as an Aborigine depicts this commentary. She sees this life as inherently worse than the one she could have as an Irish girl – a direct allegory of the issues Sen is trying to discuss. She even abandons her indigenous roots – (Having been brought up by her Aboriginal mother in Australia and with Aboriginal blood, Lena qualifies pretty damn well as Aboriginal, despite her light skin.) – and claims she’s Irish. Just to hammer home her rejection of said Aboriginal ancestry and embracing of her Irish one. Ireland is her other option. Australia hasn’t worked out so good. But she’s still got a bit of Irish in her! Maybe things will be better there. I guess from her perspective, it can’t be much worse.
Vaughn struck me at first as an angry jerk. He’s supposed to. He pulled that off pretty well. His yelling was convincingly aggressive, and his facial expression maintained a seemingly constant hatred of everything throughout the opening. Vaughn is clearly a troubled kid. Damian Pitt did some damn good work for a first-time actor pulled off the streets. From the sounds of it Sen made his selection based more on looks than acting prowess, but I guess he got lucky. Pitt portrays the character convincingly, and as the film progresses we begin to see the source of Vaughn’s anger – making his character more sympathetic.
Setting-wise… There were a lot of roads. The roads went through sunflower fields for comparatively light-hearted scenes. Storm-clouds appeared for the moodier stuff. The scenes in the church were used to allow the characters to discuss their beliefs. There was a small rural town used to introduce Lena and her life – a minimum security prison did likewise for Vaughn. Lena goes into a grungy diner and ends up vomiting the diseased food she bought there. There’s a pub at one point. And Vaughn’s home. But these are all plot devices. It’s the trip that is the focus of the piece. And the trip goes through cotton fields, sunflower fields, corn fields and grass fields. There’s a big field vibe going down over here. But yes. Sunny days and happy memories. Storm clouds and sheltering in burnt out churches wondering why our fathers abandoned us. The film seems to be intrinsically linked to the weather. Even the title. Still not sure what that’s supposed to mean. Cloudy scenes tend to be sad scenes in this film. When Lena’s brother gets taken away by the police, it’s raining. Thunder clouds are rumbling through the heavier dialogue that takes place throughout the trip. When the sun is shining, everything is fine. ‘Beneath Clouds’ could just refer to the protagonists’ depressing backgrounds, living beneath the clouds of depression? I wouldn’t put it past this guy. It could also just be a name that he thought sounded cool.
Incidentally, those cloud shots at the start. Specifically, the fish-eye red-tinged ones. Ewww. Just ewww. Those plus the ‘out there’ font made me feel like I was watching a bad 90’s childrens’ educational program. Distracting and ugly.
But on a positive note, those dead animals were rad. Something about the sense of macabre imagery, the messages of mortality and escape. This is a dead place. Lena certainly has strong views that the place is a ‘shithole,’ and wants to escape it. Otherwise it’ll be a life of minimum wage and teen pregnancy and curling up inside a bottle to wonder where her life went. Either she gets out of this place, or she’s already dead. This is a dead place. These animals – moth, bird, fox. Two of them could fly, and the other was capable of traveling long distances. They all could have left. But they didn’t, and now they’re dead. The corpses are a warning to Lena, and a symbol of the home she runs from.
Of course, cordoning the symbolism off to just Lena is wrong. I haven’t even mentioned the horses. I felt this example was especially Vaughn’s moment, as he was the only one present and it acted as so clear a metaphor for his own life. These strong, wild creatures – living in a cage, waiting to die. It’s an ominous reminder of the future that awaits Vaughn if he is caught. But the horse cage is not a representation of his prison sentence. There’s a bigger cage, outside of the first one. The same one Lena’s running from… Hwoah.
Interconnection through use of animal corpses. Yeah I just thought that was a highlight.