Oyster Farmer

Australian director Anna Reeves' debut feature follows a meandering but scenic course, much like the serpentine Hawkesbury River that serves as its beautiful locale. Twenty-four-year-old Jack (Alex O'Lachlan) has moved to the remote, river-front New South Wales fishing village of Hawkesbury in order to be close to his sister, Nikki (Claudia Harrison), who's...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Australian director Anna Reeves' debut feature follows a meandering but scenic course, much like the serpentine Hawkesbury River that serves as its beautiful locale. Twenty-four-year-old Jack (Alex O'Lachlan) has moved to the remote, river-front New South Wales fishing village of Hawkesbury in order to be close to his sister, Nikki (Claudia Harrison), who's recovering from a serious car accident in a nearby hospital. It's oyster season, and Jack has found work with Brownie Sweetwater (David Field) and his aged father, Mumbles (Jim Norton), who own and operate an oyster bed on the river. Jack doesn't mind the long hours or backbreaking work, but the wages aren't sufficient to cover Nikki's medical expenses, so Jack plans and executes a daring heist. While making a morning delivery at a Sydney fish market, he bludgeons two armored-car guards with a lobster and makes off with $150,000 in cash, which he promptly seals in a large, self-addressed envelope and drops in the nearest mailbox. Just as the package is about to be delivered to his P.O. box, however, Hawkesbury's mailman suddenly collapses from a heart attack and all his mail winds up in the river, Jack's package included. Jack frantically searches the waterway for his treasure — if the envelope falls into the wrong hands, he could wind up in jail — but the money is nowhere to be found. In the interim, Jack settles into river life, not only romancing a local girl and befriending a backwoods Vietnam veteran (Jack Thompson), but helping Brownie to reclaim his estranged wife, Trish (Kerry Armstrong). But Jack is really just biding time until the money surfaces, and he's begun to suspect that one of his new neighbors may already have found it. Reeves' screenplay is filled with secrets, scandals and secondary characters, and never settles on one thing long enough to really flesh out anything beyond the importance of putting down roots. It is, however, a terrific showcase for a troupe of fine actors who rarely find work outside the Australian film industry. Armstrong, who was last seen here in LANTANA, is particularly good, as is the veteran Thompson, but the movie's real secret weapon is the Irish-born Norton, who brings an amiable touch of blarney to every scene he's in.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Australian director Anna Reeves' debut feature follows a meandering but scenic course, much like the serpentine Hawkesbury River that serves as its beautiful locale. Twenty-four-year-old Jack (Alex O'Lachlan) has moved to the remote, river-front New South… (more)

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