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Blame (2010)

In a remote area of the Australian outback, a middle-aged piano teacher returns to his isolated and empty house. Suddenly, without warning or provocation, five masked intruders dressed in black grab him, tie him to a chair and force him to swallow a bottle of sleeping pills. They wait for him to lose consciousness and, leaving him for dead, get into their car and drive away. Having left a fake suicide note and erasing all traces of their presence, it seems like the perfect crime.

But, of course, it’s not perfect at all – and when the best-laid plans start to go awry, the already tense proceedings get ratcheted up. Intriguing bits of information start to be revealed which answer the inevitable questions: Who are these marauders? And who, precisely, is their victim? Why are they doing this? And what, in their minds at least, could justify such an extreme act of murder and revenge?

All is revealed, but the ride is an intense, thrilling roller-coaster. Cast with the crème de la crème of young Australian actors, director Michael Henry utilizes this uber-attractive talent pool to great effect. The nuances of the group relationship are deftly portrayed and as the execution of their plan falls apart, tensions mount. The group lays blame on each other and argues over how to proceed. Slowly, as their plans crumble we realize their grim motivations.

For a first time filmmaker, Michael Henry shows remarkable restraint and discipline in creating this tense, taut and devastating film. “Blame” is a study of the disintegration of trust and the motivations of cruelty. As the truth is revealed in the final, nail-biting moments of the film, promises and loyalties disintegrate and the hard permanence of self-interest comes to the fore. [Synopsis by Jane Schoettle/Toronto International Film Festival]