Nitram is both disturbing and thought provoking

Nitram – a disturbing account of the life of Australia’s worst mass murderer

Luna Cinemas upcoming movie ‘Nitram’ (the name ‘Martin’ spelled backwards), is a graphic and disquieting account of the life of mass murderer Martin Bryant, whose deadly rampage at a Tasmanian tourist site in 1996 killed 35 people.

In similar vein to his earlier film Snowtown in 2011, Australian director Justin Kurzel has used real life events to depict one of the most gripping, chilling, and murderous events ever seen in this country.

Featuring strong performances from all four leading actors (Judy Davis, Essie Davis, Anthony LaPaglia and Caleb Landry Jones), Nitram leaves its audience in stunned disbelief at the shocking series of events leading to the massacre.

There are many questions that arise from this film, including how easily a mentally disturbed Bryant could legally obtain the automatic weapons and ammunition he needed to carry out the carnage.

To its credit, the film does not portray the massacre, but it does I believe, dwell a little too long on the apparent merits of some of the guns Bryant purchased: albeit in the days before the gun moratorium, which was itself brought about by the massacre.

The other sad part of the story is that Bryant’s motivation appeared to come from another massacre: the Dunblane killings in Scotland, which had occurred only a month or so before.

The film kicks off with a real-life TV interview carried out by a Tasmanian news program with Bryant when he was only about 10 years old.

He had injured himself playing with fireworks and the unsuspecting reporter interviewed him in his hospital bed.

When the journalist asks Bryant whether burning himself so badly might cause him to change his mind about playing with fireworks in the future, an unrepentant Bryant retorts that it would not.

This sets the tone for the rest of the film as Bryant, played with amazing candour and realism by Jones, continues to terrorise his parents, neighbours and schoolmates with crazy stunts and mad antics right through his teen years and into his 20s.

His parents, superbly played by Davis and LaPaglia, are completely incapable of controlling him, with LaPaglia in particular, putting in a fine performance as the shambling, ineffectual, father who continually lets Bryant get away with his transgressions.

In his early 20s, things appear to improve for Bryant when he meets reclusive heiress Helen Harvey (Essie Davis) after offering to mow her lawn, but he soon goes into a downward spiral when she dies in questionable circumstances, leaving her house and money to Bryant.

The money proves a double-edged sword since it provides Bryant with the means to spend big on his favourite occupation: shooting guns, and the rest as they say, is history.

A deeply disturbing insight into the mind of Australia’s worst mass murderer, Nitram is showing at Luna Leederville from Thursday, September 30.

By Mike Peeters

Nitram is both disturbing and thought provoking
Nitram is both disturbing and thought provoking







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