Film review – Nitram (2021)


Violence has been a defining aspect of many iconic Australian films that have contributed to our self-mythologising. From historical war films to the depiction of outlaw anti-heroes such as Ned Kelly and Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, violent narratives have been core to notions of heroism, resilience and rebelliousness. However, there is also no shortage of films inspired by or based on real crimes, which attempt to grapple with the undercurrents in Australian society that give rise to such destructive impulses. One of the most striking films of this nature is 2011’s Snowtown by director Justin Kurzel and screenwriter Shaun Grant, which explored the community dynamic behind the shocking ‘bodies in barrels murders’ in the 1990s. Kurzel and Grant would collaborate again in 2019 on True History of the Kelly Gang, a subversive take on the Ned Kelly legend. Given their backgrounds as a filmmaking team it makes perfect sense that Kurzel and Grant have now come together for a third time to make Nitram, a film about the man behind the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, one of the most shocking crimes committed by a single person in modern Australian history and still an event that is incredibly painful and upsetting for many Australians.

Read and listen to the rest of this review at ABC Radio Melbourne