I saw a beautiful Australian movie yesterday. Burning Man is an intense, sometimes hard-to-watch exploration of a young man’s life in chaos. The film starts with a series of sharp, senseless fragments. You watch, a little bewildered, trying to piece the shards together, to understand who this angry man is and what is going on in his mixed-up life and it leaves you broken-hearted as the pieces start to fall into place.
The movie is set and shot in Sydney and many of the locations were familiar. Bizarrely and totally unintentionally I’d eaten lunch at Sean’s Panaroma, a restaurant in Bondi where some of the movie is filmed, just before watching it. If anything this made the experience even more raw, even more painfully real.
Matthew Goode was amazing to watch. Handsome, charismatic, believable. My only criticism would be that at times I felt too wrung out. Once or twice I felt I didn’t need the full reality of the situation laid out on the screen for me. Often, it was the tiniest, incidental details that made me want to weep: a shot of a young family planting a tiny lemon tree in the front yard of their home, then later that same family walking up to their front door and in the background the tree now grown, its boughs heavy with lemons, and everything else changed too with the relentless passing of time.