Sunday 30 July 2023

REVIEW: Limbo (2023) - Starring Simon Baker, Rob Collins, Natasha Wanganeen and Nicholas Hope

Review by Jon Donnis
Limbo, directed by the talented Ivan Sen, is a captivating Australian independent mystery-crime film that leaves a profound impact on its audience. Set in the stunning backdrop of Coober Pedy, the movie transports us to a small outback town where a jaded Detective Travis Hurley, portrayed with conviction by Simon Baker, delves into the murky waters of a long-forgotten unsolved homicide involving an Indigenous Aboriginal woman Charlotte 20 years ago.

As truths about the murder begin to unfold, the detective gains a new insight into the unsolved case from the victim's fractured family, the witnesses and the reclusive brother of the chief suspect

One of the most striking aspects of Limbo is its visual presentation. Shot entirely in black and white, the decision not only serves technical purposes but also brilliantly captures the starkness of Coober Pedy's white ground. The desolate landscape becomes a character in itself, enhancing the film's atmosphere and adding to the sense of isolation and mystery that pervades every frame.

Simon Baker delivers a powerhouse performance as Travis Hurley, a determined detective grappling with both the complexities of the case and the emotional toll it takes on him. Baker's portrayal of Hurley's dedication and internal struggles pulls the audience into the character's mindset, making us empathize with his pursuit of justice.

Rob Collins as Charlie brings depth and authenticity to the narrative, showcasing the unique perspectives and challenges faced by the Aboriginal community in the town. Natasha Wanganeen's portrayal of Emma is equally moving, adding layers of emotion to the film's exploration of loss and grief.

The film's plot is masterfully crafted, drawing on Ivan Sen's personal experience of the town's underground dwellings and unusual culture. The story unfolds at a deliberate pace, allowing the tension to build organically. As Travis peels back the layers of the past, he confronts a collection of unpleasant truths that expose the deep-rooted injustices faced by Aboriginal Australians.

Limbo's world premiere at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival was well-deserved, as the film's thought-provoking themes and stellar performances make it a standout contender. The movie competed for a Golden Bear Award earlier this year, and it is easy to see why, given the emotional impact it leaves on its audience.

The Good
Filming in black and white is always a risky venture, but the sheer contrast with the background is incredible.

The Bad
It does feel a bit slow at times and at 1 hour 45 minutes, it felt quite long.

Limbo is a haunting and powerful film that skilfully weaves together mystery, crime, and social commentary. Ivan Sen's direction, coupled with exceptional performances by the cast, makes this Australian gem a must-watch for anyone seeking a profound cinematic experience. It sheds light on the complexities of loss and the urgent need for justice, leaving a lasting impression long after the credits roll.

I score Limbo a solid 8.5/10

Out now on Apple TV at