London Australian Film Festival: Reaching Distance Review
Logan (Wade Briggs) witnessed his sister’s death in a car accident. Unable to deal with the fallout, he’s taken to sleeping rough, but he gets on a graffiti-strewn bus in the middle of the night. Also travelling are a nurse (Morgan Griffin), who has just broken up with her boyfriend (Meyne Wyatt) on this very journey. In addition, there’s a homeless man, Gilroy (Eddie Baroo), given to dropping his trousers to stop an argument. Two teenagers (Sophia Forrest and Anna Bauert) with whom Logan had an altercation with in a cinema when one of them used her phone. And there’s a businessman (Matt Day), who caused the car crash that caused the death of Logan’s sister. Everyone on this bus has had a personal connection with Logan at some time. So what’s going on?
Reaching Distance, a feature debut after four short films by writer/director/co-editor David Fairhurst, disorients from the start, with flash edits and music that’s intentionally discordant with what’s on screen. And after one confrontation or another, Logan wakes up again and it all starts again. Given that this is a 93-minute feature film and not a short, you wonder if it can sustain itself for the full distance. Then we get a reveal, thirty minutes in, and after the frantic first third we enter a middle-act slower movement. Groundhog Day and Memento have been evoked regarding this film (though Logan has a photographic memory instead of no short-term one) but this turn in the plot takes us into the territory of another film, which I won’t name to avoid spoilers, though it’s far less dark than it. (Clues: made in 1971, and a well-known heavy-metal band used scenes from it in the video of one of their hit singles.) Logan might have a photographic memory, but what he has, as Gilroy tells him at one point, is no imagination. He has been given a chance, it seems, to put things right, to move on from his trauma.
What impresses in this film is its execution, once again a reminder that you don’t need a big budget to realise a speculative-fiction high concept. Fairhurst gets the most out of his actors, which also include Tara Morice (twenty-seven years on from Strictly Ballroom) as a woman reading a book on the bus, who also it turns out has a significant connection with Logan. Much of the film is set on the bus, and an actual bus was bought for the film, Laura Murray’s production design redressing it at each scene change. Goldie Soetianto’s cinematography is often striking too. Impressive.
Reaching Distance had its London premiere as the opening night film of the London Australian Film Festival. Further UK distribution is to be confirmed.