Australians have been turning out dusty, violent, gritty thrillers for decades to the point where the so-called “Aussie Movie” is in fact a bit of a genre unto itself.
Case in point, first time writer/director Jasmine Yuen-Carrucan’s rough and tumble neo-noir Cactus (opening Friday in Toronto), a nasty little char-broiled number co-starring well-known actor Bryan Brown (FX, Cocktail) as a crooked lawman who gets embroiled in some serious mayhem in the Australian outback. The film is filled with the cinematic earmarks that have come to define the “Aussie Movie” aesthetic.
“I think it goes back to Mad Max,” says Brown. “I call it Australian Gothic — you get these people stranded in an environment like the outback, with no technology and they have to rely on their wits to solve their own problems.”
Cactus stars Travis McMahon as an anti-hero who accepts a job to kidnap a notorious crook and bring him to the wilds of the outback. But, as in every good pulp fiction, complications ensue in the form of an outback cop (Brown) and an innocent truck driver (Shane Jacobson), who become lethal flies in an already dangerous ointment.
“When I got the script, I thought it was incredibly interesting,” says Brown, who also executive produced.
“All of the things you expect to happen in a film like this, didn’t. I took it on as a labour of love, and used whatever star power I had to help get the film financed as well.”
Brown’s sardonic police officer, Rosco, is himself a gripping character and, although he’s not the central figure, when he’s on-screen he owns the frame.
“I like Rosco because, though he’s amoral, his actions are moral to him,” believes the actor.
“Like all great outlaws, he’s got a code that he lives by and that code makes life clear to him. He’s fascinating.”