The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From July 28

Head to the flicks to see a Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain-starring thriller, plus two recent French highlights.
Sarah Ward
Published on July 28, 2022

Something delightful has been happening in cinemas in some parts of the country. After numerous periods spent empty during the pandemic, with projectors silent, theatres bare and the smell of popcorn fading, picture palaces in many Australian regions are back in business — including both big chains and smaller independent sites in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, no one was short on things to watch, of course. In fact, you probably feel like you've streamed every movie ever made, including new releasesStudio Ghibli's animated fare and Nicolas Cage-starring flicks. But, even if you've spent all your time of late glued to your small screen, we're betting you just can't wait to sit in a darkened room and soak up the splendour of the bigger version. Thankfully, plenty of new films are hitting cinemas so that you can do just that — and we've rounded up, watched and reviewed everything on offer this week.



Patience is somewhat of a virtue with The Forgiven. It would be in it, too, if any of its wealthy white characters hedonistically holidaying in Morocco were willing to display the trait for even a second. Another addition to the getaways-gone-wrong genre, this thorny satirical drama gleefully savages the well-to-do, proving as eager to eat the rich as can be, and also lays bare the despicable coveting of exoticism that the moneyed think is an acceptable way to splash plentiful wads of cash. There's patently plenty going on in this latest release from writer/director John Michael McDonagh, as there typically is in features by the filmmaker behind The Guard, Calvary and War on Everyone. Here, he adapts Lawrence Osborne's 2012 novel, but the movie that results takes time to build and cohere, and even then seems only partially interested in both. Still, that patience is rewarded by The Forgiven's stellar lead performance by Ralph Fiennes, playing one of his most entitled and repugnant characters yet.

Sympathies aren't meant to flow David Henninger's (Fiennes, The King's Man) way, or towards his wife Jo (Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye). Together, the spiky Londoners abroad bicker like it's a sport — and the only thing fuelling their marriage. Cruelty taints their words: "why am I thinking harpy?", "why am I thinking shrill?" are among his, while she counters "why am I thinking high-functioning alcoholic?". He's a drunken surgeon, she's a bored children's author, and they're venturing past the Atlas Mountains to frolic in debauchery at the village their decadent pal Richard (Matt Smith, Morbius) and his own barbed American spouse Dally (Caleb Landry Jones, Nitram) have turned into a holiday home. Sympathy isn't designed to head that pair's way, either; "we couldn't have done it without our little Moroccan friends," Richard announces to kick off their weekend-long housewarming party. But when the Hennigers arrive late after tragically hitting a local boy, Driss (Omar Ghazaoui, American Odyssey), en route, the mood shifts — but also doesn't.

The wicked turns of phrase that David slings at Jo have nothing on his disdain for the place and people around him, and he doesn't care who hears it. His assessment of the desert vista: "it's very picturesque, I suppose, in a banal sort of way". He drips with the prejudice of privilege, whether offensively spouting Islamophobic remarks or making homophobic comments about his hosts — and he doesn't, nay won't, rein himself in when Richard calls the police, reports the boy's death, pays the appropriate bribes and proclaims that their bacchanal won't otherwise be disturbed. The arrival of Driss' father Abdellah (Ismael Kanater, Queen of the Desert), and his request that David accompanies him home to bury his son, complicates matters, however. While David begrudgingly agrees, insultingly contending that it's a shakedown, Jo helps keep the party going, enjoying time alone to flirt with hedge fund manager Tom (Christopher Abbott, Possessor).

John Michael McDonagh hasn't ever co-helmed a feature with his filmmaker brother Martin, but actors have jumped between the duo's respective works, with Fiennes — who starred in Martin's memorable In Bruges — among the latest. The siblings share something else, too, and not just a knack for assembling impressive casts; they're equally ace at fleshing out the characters inhabited by their dazzling on-screen cohorts via witty and telling dialogue. The Forgiven plays like it's in autopilot, though, but having Fiennes, Chastain, Smith and Jones (who appeared in Martin's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) utter its lines is a gift. Indeed, here it's the attitudes captured while they're speaking, and the behaviours and mannerisms made plain in how they're speaking, that add layer upon layer to this murky affair. That'd ring true even if Driss, Abdellah and the tense journey with the latter to inter the former weren't even in the narrative.

Read our full review.



Perhaps the greatest trick the devil ever pulled — the devil that is time, the fact that we all have to get out of bed each and every morning, and the sleep-killing noise signalling that a new day is here — was to create alarm clocks in a variety of sounds. Some are quiet, soft, calming and even welcoming, rather than emitting a juddering screech, but the effect always remains the same. Whatever echoes from which device, if your daily routine is a treadmill of relentless havoc, that din isn't going to herald smiles or spark a spring in anyone's step. The alarm that kickstarts each morning in Full Time isn't unusual or soothing. It isn't overly obnoxious or horrifying either. But the look on Laure Calamy's face each time that it goes off, in the split second when her character is remembering everything that her day will bring, is one of pure exhaustion and exasperation — and it'd love to murder that unwanted wake-up siren.

That expression couldn't be more relatable, as much in Full Time is, even if you've never been a single mother living on the outskirts of Paris, navigating a train strike, endeavouring to trade up one job for another for a better future, and juggling kids, bills, and just getting to and from work. At the 2021 Venice International Film Festival, Antoinette in the Cévennes and Call My Agent! star Calamy won the Best Actress award in the event's Horizons strand for her efforts here — and while the accolade didn't come her way for a single gaze, albeit repeated throughout the movie, it easily could've. Mere minutes into Full Time, it's plain to see why she earned herself such a prize beyond that withering gape, however. Calamy is that phenomenal in this portrait of a weary market researcher-turned-hotel chambermaid's hectic life, playing the part like she's living it. In our own ways, most of us are.

The first time the alarm sounds, Julie Roy (Calamy) is already lethargic and frustrated; indeed, writer/director Eric Gravel (Crash Test Aglaé), who won the Venice Horizons Best Director gong himself, charts the ups and downs of his protagonist's professional and personal situation like he's making an unflagging thriller. In fact, he is. Julie is stretched to breaking point from the get-go, and every moment of every day seems to bring a new source of stress. For starters, her job overseeing the cleaning at a five-star hotel in the city is both chaotic and constantly throwing up challenges, and the hints dropped by her boss (Anne Suarez, Black Spot) about the punishment for not living up to her demands — aka being fired — don't help. Julie has put all her hopes on returning to market research anyway, but getting time off for the interview is easier said than done, especially when the French capital is in the middle of a transport strike that makes commuting in and out from the countryside close to impossible.

Also adding to Julie's troubles is well, everything. The childcare arrangement she has in place with a neighbour (Geneviève Mnich, Change of Heart) is also precarious, thanks to threats of quitting and calling social services. Having any energy to spend meaningful time with her children at the end of her busy days is nothing but a fantasy, too. Trying to get financial support out of her absent ex is a constant battle, especially given he won't answer the phone — and the bank won't stop calling about her overdue mortgage payments. It's also her son Nolan's (J'ai tué mon mari) birthday, so there are gifts to buy, plus a party to organise and throw. Julie is so frazzled that having a drink with her best friend is a luxury she doesn't have time for, because some other task always beckons. And when a father from her village, the kindly Vincent (Cyril Gueï, The Perfect Mother), helps her out not once but twice, she's so starved of affection that she instantly misreads his intentions.

Read our full review.



With apologies to William Shakespeare, all the world isn't just a stage in French farce Murder Party. Instead, it's a game, then another one, then yet another after that. This candy-coloured murder-mystery takes perhaps the ultimate high-concept setup and hones in on a crucial fact: that audiences love whodunnits, whether they're watching them on the screen or reading them on the page, because charting the unravelling details entails sleuthing along. In other words, when we're wondering who killed who in which room and why (and with what weapon), we're playing. The board game Cluedo also nailed this truth, as have murder-mystery parties, plus the increasing array of other interactive shows and events that thrust paying participants into the middle of such puzzle-laden predicaments. And while Murder Party acknowledges this idea in a variety of manners, here's the first and simplest: it's set among a family famed for making best-selling board games themselves.

First-time feature writer/director Nicolas Pleskof and his co-scribe Elsa Marpeau (Prof T) kickstart the film with a killer setup: that eccentric crew of relatives, their brightly hued home on a sprawling country estate, an usual task given to a newcomer and, naturally, a sudden passing. Architect Jeanne Chardon-Spitzer (Alice Pol, Labor Day) is asked to pitch a big renovation project to the Daguerre family, transforming their impressive abode so that living there always feels like playing a game (or several). Patriarch César (Eddy Mitchell, The Middleman) already encourages his brood to enjoy their daily existence with that in mind anyway, including dedicating entire days to letting loose and walking, talking and breathing gameplay. But he's looking for a particularly bold next step. He's unimpressed by Jeanne's routine proposal, in fact. Then he drops dead, the property's doors slam shut and a voice over the intercom tells the architect, plus everyone else onsite, to undertake a series of challenges to ascertain the culprit among them — or be murdered themselves.

Also thrust into the high-stakes game, which'll dispense with anyone who refuses to take part or guesses incorrectly: César's son Théo (Pablo Pauly, The French Dispatch), daughter Léna (Sarah Stern, Into the World) and nudgingly named youngest boy Hercule (Adrien Guionnet, Le Bazar de la Charité). Yes, sibling rivalry complicates the hypothesising, as well as the attempts to stay alive. Théo is particularly friendly towards workaholic Jeanne, adding another complexity to the already-chaotic situation. Similarly at hand is the dead man's younger wife Salomé (Pascale Arbillot, Haute Couture) — a mystery writer herself — and his no-nonsense offsider sister Joséphine (Miou-Miou, The Last Mercenary). And, because a home this immense was always going to have some help hovering around, butler Armand (Gustave Kervern, Love Song for Tough Guys) gets drawn in, too.

If Amelie and Knives Out combined, the end result would look like Murder Party. If Wes Anderson and Agatha Christie joined forces, the outcome would be the same. It's highly unlikely that Pleskof was ever going to call his feature Murder in the Game-Filled Mansion or Death While Rolling the Dice, but that's the overwhelming vibe. There's an escape room element, too — thankfully, though, nodding towards the Escape Room franchise isn't on the agenda. Murder Party's characters get stuck in intricately designed locked spaces and forced to piece together clues to secure their freedom, and are only permitted to remain breathing by keeping their wits about them, but no one's in a horror movie here.

Read our full review.



In the crowded waters of cinema's shark-attack genre, which first took a hefty bite out of the box office with mega hit Jaws and then spawned plenty of imitators since, a low-budget Australian effort held its own back in 2010. The second movie from writer/director Andrew Traucki after his crocodile-attack flick Black Water, The Reef wasn't ever going to rake in enough takings to threaten the larger fish, but the stripped-back survival-thriller was grippingly effective. As Black Water did with 2020's Black Water: Abyss, the creature-feature helmer's shark film has now be given a sequel — and like Traucki's other franchise, this followup is a routine splash. The filmmaker keeps most of the basics the same, casting out a remakequel, aka a movie about basically the same scenario but with different faces. No, Traucki isn't seeking a bigger boat, or even to rock the one he has.

The Reef: Stalked does make one curious new choice, however, stemming from its nine-months-earlier prologue. The film's opening sequences set up quite the harrowing source of trauma for protagonist Nic (Teressa Liane, The Vampire Diaries), and also clumsily equate domestic violence with the ocean's predators in the process. The aim is to show how Nic and her youngest sister Annie (debutant Saskia Archer) refuse to become victims after their other sibling Cathy (Bridget Burt, Camp-Off) is stalked and savaged in a different way, devastatingly and fatally so, at the hands of her partner Greg (Tim Ross, Dive Club). Drawing attention to assaults against women and femicide is a worthy mission, but it lacks bite here. Traucki's metaphor is as clear as the sky on a cloud-free day, and yet the domestic abuse plot point primarily plays as a way to complicate Nic as a character — PTSD flashes and all — rather than make a meaningful statement about violence within intimate relationships.

After finding Cathy herself, Nic is so understandably distressed that she heads as far away as she can, but returns from overseas for a big diving and kayaking trip that was important to her sister. With friends Jodie (Ann Truong, Cowboy Bebop) and Lisa (Kate Lister, Clickbait), as well as Annie — who isn't known for enjoying the water, let alone for handling herself on it — they embark on a multi-day paddle. It isn't long until a different sinister force terrorises their getaway, though; even if you don't already know what "the man in the grey suit" refers to in surfer slang, this is a shark-attack sequel, after all. Aside from the haunting shots taking Nic back to Cathy's last moments, everything about The Reef: Stalked plays out as expected from the moment the quartet set off from north Queensland.

Cue the obligatory waves of jump scares, many efficiently staged but their impact lessening as they just keep coming in increasingly predictable ways (when shark flicks are happy to swim by the numbers, if you've seen one movie like The Reef, 47 Metres Down, The Shallows, Bait, The Meg and the like, it feels like you've seen them all). Cue the tension that springs from the film's characters rarely being close enough to the shore to escape — but, when it's convenient, being close enough for kids playing on the beach to become potential fodder. Cue a score by Mark Smythe (Love You Like That) that tells viewers exactly how to react at every moment, too, and dampens the thrills and frights as a result. Still, Traucki has cast The Reef: Stalked well, enough that buying Nic and company's life-or-death stress comes easily. Trusting them, rather than clunkily overcomplicating the setup — no matter how well-intentioned — might've resulted in a better return to The Reef. 


If you're wondering what else is currently screening in Australian cinemas — or has been lately — check out our rundown of new films released in Australia on April 7, April 14, April 21 and April 28; and May 5, May 12, May 19 and May 26; June 2, June 9June 16, June 23 and June 30; and July 7, July 14 and July 21.

You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Fantastic Beasts and the Secrets of Dumbledore, Ambulance, Memoria, The Lost City, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Happening, The Good Boss, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, The Northman, Ithaka, After Yang, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Petite Maman, The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly JohnsonDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Firestarter, Operation Mincemeat, To Chiara, This Much I Know to Be True, The Innocents, Top Gun: Maverick, The Bob's Burgers Movie, Ablaze, Hatching, Mothering Sunday, Jurassic World Dominion, A Hero, Benediction, Lightyear, Men, Elvis, Lost Illusions, Nude Tuesday, Ali & Ava, Thor: Love and Thunder, Compartment No. 6, Sundown, The Gray Man, The Phantom of the Open, The Black Phone, Where the Crawdads Sing and Official Competition.

Published on July 28, 2022 by Sarah Ward
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x