Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo was intriguing, perplexing and simply a pure mindfuck of a film. Different to anything I have ever seen before. As such I cant write up the review in my normal style, as so many of the things I jotted down on my funky note pad became incredibly pointless and layered as my views and realities on the film changed as often as they did.  For example in the beginning I took notes such as:
– Blurred footage to mask actors
This was under the assumption that the documentary was real and I was pointing out a documentary technique which is done in recreations to hide the actors. I’ll also point out that they stopped using a lot of these after about the first half an hour. In retrospect it was a brilliant strategy to suck you in and it was done so smoothly that you (or I) don’t even realize unless you think about it afterwards.
The film also has a lot of logistical flaws that only realize afterwards. This includes things such as various unresolved plotlines (e.g. the Tooheys, the sex tape and what actually happened to Alice). These dlaws also extend to technical faults such as when it was revealed that Matt used a TV screen to get Alice’s reflection in the mirror. Logistically a television in the dark would light up the entire room and the light around the room would be ever changing. This did not occur to me at the time and I’d be willing to bet it didn’t to most others either.
There are a lot of subtle hints that the documentary is fake. The comedic moments, such as having to drive back to town in reverse, feel quite out of place, however they are so brief that you accept them, have a laugh and move on without a second thought.
The other huge hints are the rather soap opera like plot twists. The revelations of Matt having faked the photos, the discovery of the tape, the Ray/Alice relationship and the footage of Lake Mungo were all quite shocking events that changed the direction of the story in much he same way that happens every day on The Bold and the Beautiful. However after the transition into these events the documentary still appears to take itself so seriously that we cant help but be sucked in.
One more hint that was unintentional from the film makers was the juxtaposition to the short film My Rabit Hoppy, an obviously fake film shot as if it was realistic. This was a clever move by whoever came up with the idea to put them together.
Lake Mungo is a one time experience and I consider myself to have been very lucky to be a part of it. Under no other circumstances would it have had the effect it did. If it were to be released in mainstream theatre word would get around it would become more like The Blair Witch Project, where the audience goes into it knowing that it was fake, ruining the initial experience.

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March 17, 2009. Film Festival.

One Comment

  1. Steve Jensen replied:

    Excellent review. I found myself thinking about the film for days afterwards…and not just because I wanted to ‘solve’ the mysteries in it.

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