Based on the book of the same name by iconic Australian author Tim Winton (Cloudstreet, Breath), The Turning is not your average film experience. The 17 chapters from Winton’s novel have been turned into 17 onscreen shorts, each with their own title, director, writer and cast.

The end product is unapologetically Australian thanks to the landscapes, the language, the stories and, of course, the talent – think Australia’s most prominent acting exports Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Miranda Otto and Hugo Weaving. The Turning also brings together a range of behind the scenes experiences from many corners of the performance art landscape. These include producer and director Robert Connolly (Balibo, The Slap), acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone (Thyestes, The Wild Duck) and, in their directorial debuts, actors Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right, Alice In Wonderland) and David Wenham (Oranges And Sunshine, 300).

Surprisingly for such a high concept work, each chapter is as strong, distinctive and just as intriguing as the next. Although these stories initially appear unconnected, links between characters and themes of regret, addiction, time and obsession become apparent as the film develops. While not all the pieces of the puzzle are at once obvious, The Turning will, in time, will reveal itself as a realised whole; it’s the audience’s job to make sense of the film’s varied fragments.

Considering the host of distinct narratives, along with the film’s length (a whopping three hours), even the most dedicated filmgoers amongst us could become distracted. However the placement of humorous stories alongside terrifying ones means the journey is never predictable.

Light entertainment this film is not. As suggested by Producer Robert Connolly, this work is more art than movie.If approached as such The Turning will promote reflection and thoughtfulness to reveal itself as a truly beautiful and innovative creation.

4.5/5 stars

BY LEE HUTCHISON

The Turning opens in cinemas on Thursday September 26.

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