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Rick McGrath [Celluloid 02.08.10] Austria post apocalyptic movie review drama

Year: 2009
Directors: Max Jacoby
Writers: Max Jacoby
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Rick McGrath
Rating: 4 out of 10

Add a snail’s pace to very very little action about a small and boring love triangle set in some upper class version of post apocalyptic paradise and you have Dust – hopefully it won’t settle on you.

This is one of those movies where you really wonder what the heck the creative team are up to -- save the usual arthouse killer cinematography and crunchy use of sound Dust tells a story in 82 minutes that should have been told in 22. Just long enough to be a half hour TV show. Which is too bad, but you have to understand very few of the ingredients in Dust make for a great story. But it is weird in its relentless footdragging to go nowhere. For example, twice I found myself absently cleaning my computer screen as the characters slow drip through interminable scenes of walking, of setting tables, of watering plants, of staring off to an inner landscape.

And the dialogue. Teenage sparse and disjointed, with a word or phrase uttered at about the same pace as goals are scored in hockey. If only they had something to talk about – which would seem pretty easy if you were the only three people left alive on earth. But no, it’s all looks and postures and self-conscious mumblings while outdoors, civilization has ended and there’s a new world calling. Do our protagonists respond? No, they blindly live their old life as nothing untoward has happened, and are emotionally torn apart at the slightest hint of psychic discomfort. Buck up, ya wimps.

The best thing I can say about Dust is that the ubermeisterflippengruber who runs this site insisted I first watch that 1985 classic, The Quiet Earth, as there appears to be some similarities twixt it and Dust. Having duly done so I can say there’s more action in the first 5 minutes of QE than there is in the first 30 of Dust. There also appears to be a plot, as well as some acting, character development, humour, a cool SF underpinning and some kind of resolution at the end. Quiet Earth not a really great flick, but it’s funky, entertaining and has lots of great empty city post-apoco scenes. Dust has none of the above and even worse, doesn’t even treat us to the usual in desolate landscapes. The movie takes place in the country in the early fall… it’s lush, food-laden, and features no empty buildings or long pans of places without people – which only makes sense, as country estates are where you go to get out into nature and not see other people. In Dust the only use made of the post-apoco setting is as the rationale to have kids interacting without any adult sense of judgment or consequence.

And the three kids? Catherine Steadman plays Elodie, and she certainly seems the best actor, grimacing her way through interminable emo reaction scenes. Oily Alexander plays Elias, Elodie’s twin brother, and not only is his range of angst less than Steadman’s, but there are times in the film when his voice and fey actions suggest he may not be up to what he’s supposed to be doing. Andrew Hawley plays Gabriel, the fly in the ointment, and he fits right into the movie as he’s also able to freeze pose and gaze thoughtfully for interminable moments.

Writer/Director Max Jacoby receives the full sappy Victorian melodrama award for this puffed-up attempt at a slight sexual shocker – hey… it’s post-apocalyptic, Max… morals can change! Even your ending isn’t heavy.

Get the picture? Then don’t. I’d avoid this speck of overshot and underplotted Dust. Hmmm, so that’s what it feels like to be a dustbuster.

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quietearth (11 years ago) Reply

While sometimes painfully slow, I enjoyed this film and have to disagree with Rick. Overall, I found this rather good.


agentorange (11 years ago) Reply

As usual Rick, you get right to the heart of things. Great review.

I agree that Dust is slow and the story is paper-thin. However, I also found the film to be oddly otherworldly and, as such, a unique viewing experience. I was probably in the right mood for it though. I think it was a languid Sunday afternoon screening.

Also, I don't know what size computer screen you have, but the cinematography was stellar on my flat screen tv. As you say, probably the best part of the film.


kurt (11 years ago) Reply

Say what you will about the film, That is a handsome one-sheet with the hydro-mills in the background and lots of sky-space.


rickmcgrath (11 years ago) Reply

Sorry, QE, but I found this flick basically unbelievable... slow or no, nobody would act like our twitty twins given their specific situation. But I guess you could still enjoy it... Agentorange: thanks... it's a unique experience all right. I have a 22" apple monitor, and yes, the cinematography is fantastic... kurt: if you stare at that lovely pix for 15 minutes you've basically experienced the film's action... bottom line, I love arthouse and I usually rank them higher than I probably should... but this just didn't turn my crank, or much else... in a post-apocalyptic story I wanna see post-apocalyptic, not three kids picking berries to go with their upscale brekkies... oh well: on to the next movie!


Another Fellow (9 years ago) Reply

I was probably in the right mood, but I liked it. It was slow, but that's just because the characters had gotten used to not talking a lot. You don't know how long the world has been dead, but it feels like more than a year. These twins seem to have been alone for 5 years of more, kinda killing any conversation one might have if you decide to stick in the same spot.


Michael Allen (9 years ago) Reply

I think this film adds a piece to the post-apocalyptic genre. I just don't think it is a big or a memorable piece. It is still worth watching, though.

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