WRITTEN BY: Craig Monahan
DIRECTED BY: Craig Monahan
STARRING: Don Hany, Hugo Weaving, Xavier Samuel, Mark Leonard Winter
RATING: 3 stars
Healing is not your typical prison film. There are some elements you expect to see, such as a bully and contraband drugs being smuggled around. But there is also more substance to the film, which is written and directed by Craig Monahan. Healing is a psychological examination of some of the tragic stories of people who end up in prison and how they can be rehabilitated. While the film drags in parts and there are too many sub-plots that distract from the main storyline, there are some powerful performances and beautiful cinematography showing amazing birds in full flight and hunting.
After almost 16 years in prison, Viktor Kahdem (Don Hany) is moved to a pre-release prison farm. Security guard Matt Perry (Hugo Weaving) creates a program to help rehabilitate the offenders by getting them to rehabilitate injured raptors including eagles, falcons and owls. Matt takes a liking to Viktor and places him in charge of a wedge tailed eagle named Yasmine. As he starts to heal the bird, Viktor starts to heal his own soul.
Hany has been such a consistently outstanding actor on television, it is surprising that this is his first feature film. With all the make-up, he is almost unrecognisable from his performances in shows like East West 101 and Offspring. He is fantastic in this film and should receive award attention for his performance. Weaving is as dependable as always and is given a minor sub-plot, but it does not quite give audiences enough insight into his character. Samuel is also solid as Paul, a young inmate who refuses to see his family. Mark Winter provides some comedy, as well as drama, as an inmate who is easily influenced by the prison bullies.
Healing is slow-paced but quite emotional in parts. It is a fine piece of Australian cinema.