Actor, Screenwriter, Producer Joel Edgerton teams with Director Matthew Saville with Felony a well acted tightly plotted exercise in physchological suspense.
Edgerton plays Malcolm Toohey a good cop, who in the first scene escapes death only to celebrate at the local pub with a litany of beers and chaser shots. After avoiding the booze bus with the key word “pirate”, he knocks a young Indian boy off his bike. What would you do? Is the question the audience has to ask themselves. In Malcolm’s case he begins a complex, emotionally devastating series of cover-ups. Facilitated by another senior detective, who is an old school rascist Carl Summer played superbly by Tom Wilkinson, and questioned by the new detective Jim (Jai Courtney) recently transferred from Mosman who surrepticously begins to investigate the incident.
We are invited into the lives of Malcolm, who is married and has two kids. Melissa George scores as Julie the wife, “You know if your’e not going to tell me things, can you tell your friends not to too.” She asks the guilt ridden Malcolm the morning after the incident. The Indian boys mother Ankhilla (Sarah Roberts) is lightly sketched in an attempt to create an holistic depiction of the tragic events.
The film stumbles at times primarily in relation to the Jim character whose affections for the Indian mother of the comatose child strain the credibility of the narrative. Arriving at the hospital with flowers and intruding romantically into the mothers life, as the boys lays motionless on a respirator is jarringly misjudged. Arguably dropping the hospital scenes would have delivered a more credible film. Even some of the sub plots go nowhere, the investigation into a suspected peodophile ends at court without much exploration of Jim’s investigation.
Edgerton as Malcolm proves why he is such an in demand actor, it is an understated multi layered performance, matched by Wilkinson who share a series of electric scenes together. Questioning why he chose to lie to the officers on the scene, Wilikinson retorts, “survival is why you did it…time and the world swallows events….grow a fucken brain.”
Saville directs with skill, a series of handhelds capture the suspense of the opening chase, and the incident itself is a slow burn to tragedy. Nicely edited and the use of sound evident in Saville’s earlier work Noise is superb here as well. Briony Marks wrote the terrific score.