Lake Mungo asks more questions than it answers, but not in the sense that it’s full of plot holes. There’s nary a plot hole to be found in this tightly woven Australian tale. I know that the movie is going to stay with me psychologically for a long time. It’s the kind of movie that makes you long for a discussion group, and also that you don’t want to ruin for anyone else.
Told in a documentary style, Lake Mungo is the story of Russell, June and Mathew Palmer as they grieve over the drowning death of their 16 year old, Alice. There is evidence throughout the film of supernatural activity, and the paranormal is an important part of the story but the main idea here is how the Palmers deal with grief.
The name Palmer is a nod to Twin Peaks, and like Laura Palmer, Alice is filled with secrets. The resemblance between the two stories ends there. Lake Mungo is a much subtler story, more grounded in reality and not at all over the top.
I think I’m starting to understand why many people prefer a movie in which you can’t say for sure whether there is a paranormal element. If everything is decided for you, someone of high intelligence has nothing to ruminate about after the film has ended and may feel as if they have wasted their time. I know that for me, for reasons I can’t explain, it’s more fun to believe in ghosts. Among otherwise intelligent people I seem to be in the minority in that aspect, but I’ll admit a scientific approach to life never has been my preference.
What I don’t understand is why this movie is being remade in America. I’m envisioning the 2011 release as more lurid, gory and sensationalist. I can’t think of any reason other than greed for this to happen. It’s not as if the story is culturally hard for American audiences to identify with; Lake Mungo is not a story that is uniquely Australian and the accents are not very thick. It’s as if the business people responsible believe the American public to be stupid and, depressingly, enough of us are stupid that these insipid remakes keep happening.
If greed is the answer, there’s only one solution I can see. Stop discussing remakes. It’s not enough to not pay to see them if your loud complaints are convincing people who are otherwise on the fence to go and check them out. Companies who believe that anything is okay as long as you do it in the name of business are the same people that believe no publicity is bad publicity. So stop mooning over what is getting remade, stop reviewing the stupid things just so you can say “see, I told you it would suck,” and stop giving the studios free publicity.
It’s a subject that makes me angry, because I hate stupid people and I hate being thought of as one of them. Therefore, I’m never going to mention it again. I’m not going to discuss it here, in my social media or in real life conversations. I’m going to treat remake-happy film companies as naughty children who crave attention and give them none in hopes it will cure the bad behavior. I hope some of you will join me.
P.S. David Pledger, please make more movies so I can stare at you some more.