'The Broken Shore' REVIEW: ABC's Short-Film Narrates a Morose Tale of Racism, Prejudices, Abuse and Haunted Past

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By Anshu Shrivastava | February 4, 2014 5:16 PM EST

ABC's short-movie, "The Broken Shore," is based on Peter Temple book of the same name. This adaptation for television, directed by Rowan Woods, stays true to the book. The short-film invites one to a world of melancholy, racism, corruption, crime, and the haunting past. It is a crime thriller but consisting of elements that make it much more than a routine 'who did it' murder investigation story-line. Also, it reminds one of the shimmering racial tensions between aboriginals and whites, and the existing prejudices in the Australian Society.

"The Broken Shore" opens up with a fire scene, which kills three young boys. The memorial of the three boys is where the protagonist, Joe Cashin (Don Hany), momentarily halts, after his morning exercise, atop a mound. He is a former homicide detective who has moved back to his small coastal home-town. Cashin is going through a rehab phase after an accident during a stake-out . The man wears a look of despair and his limping gait adds to his broken image.

Cashin's mother wants him to return to his city life, while he puts a trespasser, Dave Rebb (Dan Wyllie), on job to build his great-grandfather's broken home. Cashin does not start on a friendly note with his neighbour, Helen Castleman (Claudia Karvan), a former school-mate. There is an altercation between the two when Helen accuses him of putting his fence on her property. However, these two come close as time passes.                               

Cashin is sucked back into his former homicide detective role when a prominent philanthropist, Charles Burgoyne, is brutally murdered at his own home. This chilling murder brings to the fore the racist mentality of some local cops investigating the murder, which leads to the deaths of three boys. The murder investigation also exposes the fiends who were living as perfect citizens. It opens-up the case of the boys killed in the fire, unravelling a history of sexual abuse at a boy's orphanage. Like almost all the crime-thrillers, the homicide detective is able to correctly identify the murderer. Cashin also manages to survive and shun his morose look.    

"The Broken Shore" is a well-directed short-movie, which does not shy away from touching sensitive issues.  One can feel the palpable tension that exists throughout the film. Cashin's flashbacks provide a glimpse of his haunting past, but they remain just glimpses. They are not incorporated, or explored, properly in an otherwise flawless tele-film. Martin McGrath, cinematographer of "The Broken Shore" has beautifully captured the morose atmosphere and the barren, thinly populated landscape.            

Anthony Hayes plays the racist cop, Rick Hopgood, with chilling precision. However, it is Don Hany's portrayal of Cashin that stands out and stays on the mind. He is brilliant as a broken man, with an air of unwavering benignity. He is ably supported by all the star-cast.    

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