Black Tide - A Jack Irish Movie - Review

Black Tide - A Jack Irish Movie - Review
Sunshine noir is the result of color film and unbridled cynicism. Set in waterfront locations such as Los Angeles, Miami, or Melbourne, the radiant light in sunshine noir symbolizes deceit and decrepitude. Appearances mask reality and as Peter Temple, the author of the Jack Irish novels said, “the bigger the gap between people’s actions and the things they profess, the more fertile the ground for the crime novel.”

“Black Tide” is adapted from Temple’s second Jack Irish novel and is set in Melbourne, Australia. Guy Pearce plays Irish, a lawyer who operates on the margins of society and the law. Although not a plot point in this movie, the backstory to Irish’s fall-from-grace involves the murder of his wife by a former client. The studied indifference Irish sometimes displays in the face of danger is explained by his guilt and anguish over her loss.

A divergent facet of Irish’s past is the catalyst for the action in “Black Tide”. His deceased father’s friend, Des Connors, shows up at Jack’s makeshift office to ask for help drafting a will. Des also volunteers that his house is being foreclosed upon due to the financial malfeasance of his son. In searching for the errant scion, Jack becomes embroiled in a political and corporate conspiracy in which all the lessor players are being killed.

Jack, often unwillingly, functions as a private investigator for his clients and has a loyal crew to assist him. This includes Simone (Kate Atkinson), a fast-talking research specialist, Harry Strang (Roy Billing), horse-racing magnate extraordinaire, Cam Delray (Aaron Pedersen), Strang’s talent scout and enforcer, and Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp), investigative journalist and Jack’s on-and-off love interest. The novels contain a much larger cast of recurring characters but, of necessity, screenwriter Matt Cameron culls many of the minor roles. “Black Tide” moves at a breakneck pace as Cameron squeezes the 350-page book into a ninety-minute thriller.

The Jack Irish movies (three in total) and the subsequent television series demonstrate several characteristics of sunshine noir, which include the portrayal of a corrupt political class and unchecked corporate power. In Irish’s universe, it is the individual who must enforce the law, often by vigilante means. Investigative journalism is seen as the other powerful tool for holding authority accountable. Author Peter Temple, himself a former journalist, ends “Black Tide” with journo Linda Hillier broadcasting the evidence that Irish has uncovered.

A user on X (Twitter) recently posted that Hollywood had failed actor Guy Pearce. I think it is unrealistic to expect the American industry to provide material for all of the world’s English-speaking actors. There are too many accomplished actors and not enough quality scripts. Pearce, by appearing in Australian productions, has done exactly what he needed to do. Jack Irish is a substantial, engaging role and Pearce is up to the challenge.

Article posted on 6/23/2024. "Black Tide" is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Click here

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