Shot in Merredin, Greenfield is the story of James (Ethan Tomas) as he follows his ex-girlfriend, Kelly (Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik), back to her small rural hometown in an attempt to reunite. He discovers that the town of Greenfield has secrets, and soon finds himself clashing with the macho power structure of many of the locals.
The issue with Greenfield is that it often feels like it’s at odds with itself. Not in terms of character conflict, that’s to be expected and welcomed in a drama. No, it’s on a fundamental level of film-making, with Greenfield’s intention seeming to run contrary to the product on the screen. Greenfield is shot in a manner that makes the most out of its low budget, embracing the realism and grit of small-town life. However, this naturalistic tone is something that it fails to capture in its dialogue, instead often lunging into melodrama. The result is unsetting and pulls you out of the moment.
This unnatural dialogue also compounds issues with the narrative, leaving the sensation that, despite the disruption, despite the revelations, no one seems to change fundamentally. This would be fine if it was the intent, but as the end makes much of a number of characters moving on, that suggestion of positive change feels unearned. Fundamental growth hasn’t really occurred, merely a change in circumstances and associations.
All of which seems like nit-picking, as there is a solid film here, highlighting homophobia and toxic masculinity in a rural Australian setting. It takes a good stab at addressing these issues, and the overlapping nature of many of them, as one issue compounds another. At times it’s a very nuanced approach, and this is where Greenfield shines, in those quieter moments. Here it makes the most of its setting, allowing the camera to showcase the economic decay of the small rural town and suggesting the impact on the inhabitants.
For all its noble intentions, Greenfield doesn’t quite deliver due to some clunky dialogue and underdeveloped characters, but it comes close.