Hot off the awards-season buzz for “1917,” George MacKay makes his next big-screen appearance in “True History of the Kelly Gang” from “Macbeth” director Justin Kurzel. Here, MacKay stars as 19th Century Australian criminal Ned Kelly, who was executed in 1880 with the famous last words “Such is life.” Watch the new U.S. trailer below. IFC Films opens “True History of the Kelly Gang” in theaters and on VOD April 24.
Set against the unforgiving landscape of 19th Century Australia, the movie follows the legendary outlaw Ned Kelly, who’s raised under the iron rule of the colonial English. Food is scarce and survival is filled with daily struggle as colonizers degrade their victims with ceaseless brutality. Similarly, fellow Aussie filmmaker Jennifer Kent explored this world in last year’s rape-revenge tale “The Nightingale,” and “True History of the Kelly Gang” features Essie Davis, who starred in Kent’s debut “The Babadook,” as Ned Kelly’s mother. She sells him off to notorious bushranger Harry Power (Russell Crowe), leading Kelly to discover he comes from a line of warriors called the Sons of Sieve. His appetite for revenge inspires him to lead an anarchist army to terrorize his oppressors in an audacious attack on the authorities.
Based on a novel by Peter Carey, the screenplay comes from Shaun Grant, who penned Kurzel’s horrific and unforgettable 2011 feature debut “The Snowtown Murders,” about a real-life serial-killing spree in a hellish Australian suburb. This is director Justin Kurzel’s first return to his gritty roots since a disastrous foray into American studio filmmaking with 2016’s video-game adaptation “Assassin’s Creed,” which failed at the box office and among critics despite Michael Fassbender at the helm. Kurzel previously directed “Macbeth,” his take on the Shakespeare play, starring Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Currently, Kurzel has the World War II thriller “Ruin” in pre-production, and the terrorism thriller “The Siege” in the works.
In a review out of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn praised “True History of the Kelly Gang,” writing “The movie hovers in a curious paradox, coming across as both operatic tribute and horrific condemnation, but it’s never less than a nasty crime drama with plenty of grimy characters to keep the stakes compelling throughout. Imagine ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ in the Australian outback — a disturbing glimpse of criminality that provides a subversive taste of its appeal.”
Here’s the trailer for “True History of the Kelly Gang.”