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MOVIES (GFF 2022): Nitram - Review



Nitram is a portrayal of pure evil – as chilling as they come from Justin Kurzel that turns attention to a tragic real-world incident that was Australia’s worst mass shooting. Rather than glamourise or Hollywoodise the tale Kurzel manages to avoid so many ways in which this movie could have gone badly wrong – calling the central character “Nitram” and not even uttering his real name at all.

Taking place in the mid-90s in suburban Australia, we get to see Nitram’s life of isolation and frustration at being an outsider, of never fitting in with society no matter where he goes. His descent into nightmare doesn’t take too long to unfold, with Kurzel upping the stakes as Nitram progresses, hurtling towards its tragic destination from which there can be no escape. Kurzel is no stranger to dark, blunt and hard-edged stories – The True History of the Kelly Gang and Macbeth he has hit before, and he uses that to really find a way to get under your skin – even if you aren’t normally put on edge by movies, Nitram will find a way, as foreboding as they come.

We Need to Talk About Kevin deals with a similar subject in a slightly less considerate way to get an idea as to what you’re heading into watching and Nitram is not going to be for everyone – but it’s a vital watch. It manages to avoid feeling exploitative or done for stylistic choices over what the implications of true events could truly mean – Kurzel is intelligent, smart and plays his hands very well – not showing the real-world events themselves which would have been an instant turnoff. The actors are completely on the same page as to what Kurzel is trying to do – otherwise it simply wouldn’t work, and Caleb Landry Jones, Judy Davis, Sean Keenan, Essie Davis and Anthony La Paglia operate in this world without doing anything that can be considered too disrespectful. It’s hard to make a movie of this kind subtle but Kurzel succeeds in doing so – exploring the relationship between Nitram and his parents in a completely different way.

The end result may never warrant a rewatch given its tough subject matter – but maybe recommending it once wouldn’t go amiss. Its biggest accomplishment is that it never justifies anything here.

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