Good actors in gorgeous settings without a cohesive story does not add up to a great movie. In this rom-dram from down under, Georgie (Kelly Macdonald – No Country for Old Men, Puzzle) is living in an insular small town in Western Australia with its most powerful resident Jim (David Wenham – Lord of the Rings, 300) who she’s not really that fond of any longer. One early morning while swimming nude she meets a hunk named Lu Fox (Garrett Hedlund – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Mudbound) who’s out lobster fishing where he isn’t supposed to. But one thing leads to another and soon they’re romantically entangled. A tragedy haunts Lu and though Georgie is prepared to give everything up for him, her partner Jim doesn’t want to let her go. But when Lu leaves town to get away from Jim’s thugs, Georgie follows him to the ends of the earth.

Clues about all the characters pasts are dropped rather willy-nilly. In flashbacks we find that Lu was a musician until a tragic accident that took his whole family, including an adorable little niece who he still talks to. Georgie met Jim at a resort where he took his kids after his wife’s death from cancer. Georgie used to be a nurse but now just hangs around the mansion. Jim is the Grand Poobah in the town and nobody there will talk to outsider Georgie. The Foxes are outcasts. And Georgie comes from a very rich family in the big city. Oh, and that tragic accident that killed the niece was Jim’s fault.

Dirt Music ends up feeling like a Nicholas Sparks movie, though with less romance and a lot more arty landscape shots. It is a great advertisement for Western Australia, but not really much of a script. The book from which it is adapted apparently went on for pages about landscapes and nature. And for that the movie is definitely commendable. But if you’re looking for a compelling love story, this ain’t it, mate.

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