This Week’s Recommendation: Mystery Road

20 Nov 2020 - 26 Nov 2021


This week's recommendation

Mystery Road


2013,121 mins. English language

Directed by Ivan Sen

Mystery Road was the 757th film screened by RFS on 18th October 2016.  It was the second ranked film of Season 54, with an audience approval rating of 91%.

Writer-director Ivan Sen (who also shoots, scores and edits) goes walkabout through the minefield of contemporary Australian culture, offering an evocative snapshot of an unravelling crime scene – social, racial and economic.

Charismatic Aaron Pedersen stars as detective Jay Swan, returning to his small-town roots after a stint in "the big smoke", which has merely widened the chasm between him and his former peers. The son of a stockman, Jay is "an Abbo copper" caught between two worlds – alienated from his own community, ostracised by his white workmates. 

It is the discovery of a teenager's body under a road used by truckers that fires this scorched-noir murder mystery. While the police department remains resolutely unmoved by the death of an indigenous Australian girl ("You're on your own on this one, Jay"), the case strikes close to home for the unloved detective – the dead girl had been texting his daughter, Crystal, and his lonely inquiries uncover sordid evidence of drug-dealing, sexual exploitation and worse. You don't have to be a super-sleuth to figure out that Jay is scratching away at a web in which almost everyone is ensnared, or that the thin blue line between cops and criminals has turned a very murky shade of grey. Yet the ultimate destination of the narrative is less important than the road that leads us there, the sights and fellow travellers encountered en route making this a journey worth taking.

(With acknowledgements to Mark Kermode, Observer).

Full film notes available in the Twickenham & Richmond Tribune -

Mystery Road spawned a TV serial that has recently been screened for the second time on BBC4. The film can be streamed from Amazon Prime and the Blu-Rays are available from Amazon and others.

Presented by Richmond Film Society




Presented by Richmond Film Society