- 1 hr 52 min
Nitram is a gripping and disturbing drama film from 2021 that tells the story of the lead up to one of Australia's worst mass shootings. The movie delves into the life of the perpetrator, 22-year-old Martin Bryant, who killed 35 people and injured 23 others in the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. The title Nitram is Martin's name spelled backwards.
Caleb Landry Jones delivers a chilling and convincing performance as Martin Bryant, depicting him as an introverted and mentally unstable young man with a troubled past. Bryant's mother, played by the legendary Judy Davis, is portrayed as overprotective and enabling, refusing to acknowledge her son's mental health issues and allowing him to access guns. Anthony LaPaglia portrays the owner of the hotel where Bryant stays in Hobart, who sells him the weapons he uses in his rampage.
The movie is directed by Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel, who rose to fame with his gritty, atmospheric adaptation of Macbeth in 2015. Kurzel's signature visual style is on display in Nitram, with haunting landscapes and dark lighting adding to the film's eerie atmosphere. The script, written by Kurzel's brother Shaun and based on real events, avoids sensationalism and instead strives for a nuanced and thought-provoking portrayal of one of the darkest moments in Australian history.
Nitram is not an easy film to watch, and it doesn't glorify the mass shooter or try to explain away his actions. Instead, it explores the complex societal and personal factors that culminated in the tragedy. Bryant is shown as a lonely and isolated young man with a history of self-harm and strange behavior. He struggles with social interactions and seems to have no career or life goals. His mother's overbearing love and his own mental health issues create a toxic mix that ultimately leads to his descent into violence.
The film is also a critique of gun laws in Australia, which were lax at the time of the Port Arthur massacre. Bryant was able to easily purchase semi-automatic weapons and shoot dozens of innocent people without any impediment. The aftermath of the shooting led to a significant tightening of gun laws in Australia, which are often cited as a successful example of gun control policy.
Nitram doesn't shy away from the horror of the Port Arthur massacre, but it also examines the emotional toll it took on the survivors and the families of the victims. There are scenes of victims' families confronting Bryant in court and in public, with raw emotions on display. The film doesn't offer easy catharsis or closure, but instead leaves the audience to grapple with the senselessness and tragedy of the event.
Overall, Nitram is a powerful and thought-provoking film that handles a difficult subject matter with care and nuance. Caleb Landry Jones' intense performance and the film's eerie visual style create an unsettling atmosphere that drags the audience into Bryant's psychological breakdown. This film is a reminder that even the most heinous acts of violence have complex causes and can have lasting effects on entire communities.
Nitram is a 2021 mystery with a runtime of 1 hour and 52 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 81.