Healing is the kind of movie that tries hard to please and has all the right ingredients to do so – the story is about Viktor (Don Hany), a long term prisoner who is recently transferred to Won Wron, a working farm facility for minimum security prisoners who are close to their parole or release. Matt Perry, his case officer – played by Hugo Weaving – wants to give him a chance by making him responsible for a sanctuary for injured birds within the farm compound. His natural ability to work with an injured eagle, named Yasmine is his way of finding redemption with his estranged son – and learning how to cope with his impending release. Along the way, he also acts like a protector for Paul (Xavier Samuel) – a young prisoner who’s finding it hard to accept his parents acceptance and forgiveness for the crime that he did.
The movie also attempts to infuse a sense of tension – which certainly manages to do so within the first ten minutes of the movie. The fantastic opening scene gets the heart pounding – it’s just too bad that the momentum is not sustained throughout. As much as I would’ve hated to see terrible things happen to the protagonists, without real tensions, the movie seems just gliding through – and at times quite leisurely. It seems that the writers (Craig Monahan, also the director – along with Alison Nisselle) don’t dare to ruffle the feathers too much and want to make this movie as heartwarming as possible. I just think some grittier tensions would have made this movie far more impactful.
Some of the scenes also appear to be episodic, i.e. now we have one scene – then fade to black – then another one. Although it is a truly acceptable way to tell the next stage of the story, if it is done far too often, then it’s almost like watching a movie for TV with perfect spots for ad breaks.
However, I must mention Andrew Lesnie‘s fantastic cinematography – he immerses the viewers into the nature as the camera glides over the eucalyptus forests. He shows you the textural beauty of the birds’ feathers and teach you to admire the gliding wings of an eagle. Another standout from the movie is David Hirschfelder‘s music – at times the music adopts the same vein as Thomas Newman’s “Any Other Name” – however, when he incorporates reed pipe music into the soundtrack, that alone (along with the majestic view of the nature) manages to get me a tad teary eyed.