Some years ago in the western suburbs of Sydney there was a particularly nasty rape and killing of a young nurse on her way home from work carried out by two brothers and their friend. The incident became known as the Anita Cobby case and although the killers were caught and convicted, its reverberations still continue in the NSW criminal justice system. This film, from Gordon Graham's play, is not a recounting of the Cobby case, but attempts to answer the question: what sort of people could have perpetrated such a crime? The answer given here, in a coldly clinical examination, is a domineering psychopath and his two compliant brothers brought up in a family where the women are treated as mere conveniences.
David Wenham, more usually associated with pleasant off-beat characters like Diver Dan in the TV series "Sea Change", plays the evil Brett, who has just done time for assault, and is back home manipulating his family and girlfriend. Despite the fact he spends most of his time sitting around drinking beer, everyone is afraid of him. He has the happy knack of being able to inspire fear just by looking at someone and lowering his voice. It is a remarkably powerful performance. Toni Collette as Brett's girlfriend Michelle is able to give us some insight into why an apparently sane (if insecure) woman would want Brett - it's the buzz of his badness that attracts.
Being derived from a play, there is drama here, but because the approach is also rather clinical, it does feel a bit like looking at cockroaches through a magnifying lens. It's hard to feel much empathy with Brett - whatever made him what he is, he's pretty nasty and permanent incarceration seems to be the best option. If there is any chance of redemption it is not evident here. The other brothers Glen and Stevie are not so bad (though Stevie has a violent streak), but easily led, or bullied. In other circumstances they would not have committed such a crime. So in the end it is down to Brett and we don't even get a hint as to why he is as he is. He does tell us "we are all gods" by which he means we are all responsible for what we do. In his case he's happy to be a murdering psychopath. So look out.