Force of Nature – The Dry 2

Peter W Sheehan 30 January 2024

This Australian thriller tells the story of five hikers who went on a staff retreat, but only four returned. Two federal agents investigate.

FORCE OF NATURE – THE DRY 2. Starring: Eric Bana, Anna Torv, Debora-Lee Furness and Robin McLeavy. Directed by Robert Connolly. Rated M (Mature themes and coarse language). 112 min.

The film is a mystery thriller, written and directed by Robert Connolly, and is a well-cast complement to his 2020 film, The Dry, which was based on the international best-seller debut novel of the same name written by Jane Harper in 2016. Her next book, Force of Nature, on which this film is based, was published in 2017. Eric Bana returns to reprise his role as federal agent Aaron Falk who is called in to investigate the disappearance of Alice (Torv), one of the women who went on the staff retreat. Falk is a police officer in a financial investigation unit in Melbourne, and he is joined by federal agent Carmen Cooper (Jacqueline McKenzie). Together, Falk and Cooper head into the mountains to conduct a search for Alice. Both, however, have pressured Alice into cooperating with them in building a case against the company that employs the women. The Dandenong Ranges, the Yarra Valley and the Otways supply the scenery.

Tensions escalate, and the challenges of the environment loom large. Using the imagery of Jane Harper, the film captures the novel’s ‘imagined darkness of native bushland’. Alice has left a desperate message on her mobile phone, and there are rumours of a serial killer who was on the loose in the bush, although we never see him. Alice was a whistle-blower on the corrupt conduct of the company, and it is ominous that she is the one who has disappeared. The four remaining women are traumatised by Alice’s disappearance. Their plight reminds one of the ‘forces of nature’ that communicated tensions so well in Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975).

The women begin to quarrel with each other; their disagreements turn physical; and their interactions with the environment that surrounds them result in major dread. The women evidence friendship, and suspicion, but also demonstrate betrayal, mistrust and unrest. They lose their way geographically and psychologically, and Falk and Cooper think there is little hope of finding their informant alive.

The beauty of the natural world is excellently captured by the film’s cinematography, and the movie impressively fuses together the staff retreat that lost Alice, and the investigation by Falk and Cooper to find her. The Dry, and this film, put Robert Connolly with Bana, and their partnership works. Bana brings to his scenes a distinctive self-reflective style; and Connolly’s direction tensely complements the plot complexity of The Dry. The character of Aaron Falk matured in ‘The Dry 2’, but there is room to learn whether his character will grow further – which could make for an interesting ‘The Dry 3’, if such eventuates.

Roadshow Films
Released 8 February



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