The film opens with a declaration that “the time is now” and explains how the people are rioting, the country is bankrupt, and martial law is in effect. The bulk of the film takes place at the isolated Ithaca Flour Mill, run by the seedy (haha) Strickland (Bogdan Koca). It is harvest time and Natalie (Helen Jones) has returned to her hometown with Wiley (Robyn Nevin) to get a temporary job in the fields/factory. However, Ithaca forewoman Jean (Lorna Lesley) informs the workers that she only has room for fifteen people versus last year’s fifty, due to Strickland cutting a deal with the government to use prison labor. This creates a conflict for Jean as well as her husband, Autrey (Sam Toomey), is currently locked up in one of these government work farms. The dusty town is filled with all kinds of odd characters including Natalie’s family (that lives a tribal, off-the-grid existence) and Peter (Keays-Byrne), a drunk who bootlegs grain alcohol and has a dark political past.
What no one in the town knows is that the Government has passed the “Emergency Powers Act” and soon the place is surrounded by spike strips, huge tanks, a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears soldiers, and some downright bloodthirsty mercenaries. When Autrey and another local boy escape from the prison camp and are killed by the soldiers, Jean decides she must team up with Natalie to offer a bit of the film’s title.
a bit more Sad Max than Mad Max. If you are waiting for the moment where the people rise up and take it to their military oppressors, you’ll be waiting a long time as that doesn’t happen until the 90 minute mark and lasts all of five minutes. Such delayed pathos doesn’t really help when you keep thinking something is about to go off. For example, after Autrey is killed, I thought that Jean was going to go off. Instead she decides to just go back to work and then pack up after she gets fired. Later she illegally reclaims his body and the military stomps down to his funeral pyre…to politely ask a soldier to point out who stole the body and then do nothing. It is a film that just doesn’t seem to get going, which is a shame as there are lots of fertile ideas. For example, Peter’s activist past is brought up and you get the feeling he was tortured, but the filmmakers never delve into it (or even continue on with his story once he is identified by the Government). It definitely has a us-versus-them mentality, but sometimes things are a bit too on the nose (like when someone screams at the military guys “fuckin’ animals, fuckin’ terrorists!”). I assume the script was partially improvised as the final screen credit goes to The Macau Collective. What the film does do pretty well is creating this little town and the characters that inhabit it. That might just be down to casting regular folks who play themselves, but that works well. Another aspect where the film is really stunning is the widescreen cinematography by Sally Bongers. Sadly, the VHS copy I watched is full screen. To make it hurt even more, the tape opens with a widescreen trailer that showcases the film’s gorgeous look in capturing these desolate locations.