As an overwhelmed student with too many plans, seeing Rolf de Heer’s “Charlie’s Country” gave me a chance to step away from all of the squirrels and schoolwork on Penn's campus. Still, this film was more than just a lighthearted escape, as I left the theater with thoughts of segregation, tradition and clashing cultures swirling in my head. Charlie is an aboriginal Australian played by David Gulpilil (of “Crocodile Dundee"). Gulpilil manages to portray the simplicity of Charlie’s lifestyle without overlooking the emotional depth of his character. Charlie is focused solely on living a humble life centered on giving to and nurturing his community. Governmental intervention, however, makes it difficult for him to live accordingly.
The first part of the film introduces daily routines complemented by colorful shots and spirited music. Though lively, these shots reflect the intervention that hinders and hurts Charlie's community. Fed up with restrictions, Charlie flees the community to reclaim his independence and live “the old way.” But, in the process of doing so, he goes through circumstances that reveal flaws in the Australian administrative system and intervention practices in general. In an authentic end scene, the film’s emotional roller coaster comes to a somewhat ambiguous halt. Ultimately, the film draws lots of smiles and a few heart–wrenching punches that will keep you at Charlie’s feet.
Check out what else we saw at the Philly Film Festival!