Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lake Mungo (2008)

A person not removed

This is a faux docu-drama with elements of mystery and the supernatural that revolves around a young woman named Alice Palmer who recently passed in her home town in Australia. She went missing in a local lake and the family doesn't want to let go right away or accept the inevitable. A decomposed woman's body is found, yet they partly drag out if it might actually be her and that her life couldn't have abruptly ended that day when there was so much more that could have been. Back at their house, there are strange noises, nightmares, sightings and even suspicious photographs to what seems to be her physical presence in the time that follows. The mother seeks out a psychic who wants to hold a seance. Secrets come out regarding the family after the fact, the psychic in question, as well as that involve Alice that no one else knew about her with immediate relatives and friends.

The slow, evolving pace is what makes this film work. It's not quick and upbeat or hip and trendy, but something that captures the scenery and her life in glimpses and flashes. There are a share of recorded mediums that it transforms from: some crisp and steady, some grainy and shaky. The latter comes with some eerie and unsettling scenes that eventually make your eyes scan the surrounding shots for hidden clues--nothing is what it seems is the impression. It has a very deliberate flow to the point of sucking in a viewer and getting involved to the point of forgetting that this is just a film. Though it's somewhat depressing watching a documentary film, even if fictional, about a young person that's life abruptly ends with only bits and pieces as to what she was up till that point. The story is concerned about her past and how it affects all that knew her now, but the mind still wanders into this dark territory nonetheless of what could have been.

The film gives off a general sense of regret and melancholia in that she keep things from them that were beyond her teenage years that caused her to silently suffer without anyone else knowing since she had very few to turn to or trust. The home video footage becomes instantly haunting that the person you're seeing no longer exists and little did she know of it at that time that it's her last images. The mother has the hardest time letting go and grasps on to any information, whether good or bad, about her daughter's life. The brother was also close and uses ways to cope with his late sister that some question whether it's rational or justified. The father and boyfriend speak with a little more pep that sometimes show glimpses of emotional restraint, as well as friends, co-workers and investigators who give their take.

"Lake Mungo" manages to keep itself interesting with a steady focus and share of revelations. Some of them feel a little manipulated, for fixating on one way for a period, then turning it around and that not being the case at all. As well as a few revelations jump forward a little quicker than others. Watching this gives off some reminders of the sad and wrenching film "Ordinary People," though there's still some positive, heartfelt and dramatic interviews that reflect human loss and then how to cope with the fact through a share of outlets that gives this a little bit of resolve despite its somber mood at times. Others who've had someone abruptly pass don't always get to share the after effects like they did, or to others that would have never known this girl in this particular place and time. Some areas are dry to give room to form an opinion, while others are leaning more towards the paranormal being possible without the other side getting a chance to breath. This isn't a film to just put on since the experience might linger and brood in one's mind or possibly turn over to being upset with the filmmakers for making it so realistic.

Rating: 8/10

Director: Joel Anderson
Link: IMDB

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