Dirt Music

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Dirt Music Movie Poster Image
Infidelity, deception rule in clunky Australian romance.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Argues for choosing love over convenience. But characters serve as example that taking the easy route isn't necessarily easy emotionally.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are humanly flawed. On the representation front, the only inclusiveness involves a minor character with a disability who isn't portrayed positively (although not particularly negatively either).


A pet is killed. Characters fight. Life-threatening peril. More than once, characters are pursued with dire consequences.


A woman strips to go for a swim in the dark; her entire body is exposed, but it's more of an outline than actually seen. Characters are clothed during the one full-on sex scene. Several scenes of cuddling in bed with nonsensitive nude body parts shown above the covers.


Strong language includes "s--t" and several uses of "f--k." Middle-finger gesture.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rampant drinking -- several scenes include drunkenness. One scene shows children carrying their own mug of beer, implying that they're allowed to drink. Lead character is said to be an alcoholic, but scenes don't reflect that too much. Drinking and driving has consequences. Minor supporting character smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dirt Music is an Australia-set romance based on author Tim Winton's award-winning novel. The film shows off the location's gorgeous isolated coastal and island communities within the context that its beauty is dangerous. That could just as well be the message of the movie as a whole: Georgie (Kelly Macdonald) can't keep her eyes or mind off of Lu Fox (Garrett Hedlund), who's suffering emotionally due to the tragedy that killed his family. She swims naked to meet him for the first time (non-explicit scene), and eventually they have sex -- expect lots of movements and facial reactions, but their clothes stay on. References are made to Georgie being a drunk, but there's little evidence of it on-screen. And it seems like an arbitrary accusation, since everyone in this community drinks constantly -- even kids. There's also a bit of smoking. Strong language is mostly "s--t" and "f--k." Mafia-like violence is implied through the murder of a pet and destruction of property. Serious consequences arise from infidelity, drinking excessively, and not wearing a seatbelt. Themes of death, grief, regret, and depression dominate the story.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCharlieRust January 25, 2021

The misery of a beautiful place

This is not really an entertaining or appropriate movie for kids under 14.
Many antagonistic relationships born out of tragedy. Winton's novels often have... Continue reading
Adult Written bySMOKEYBEAR December 3, 2020

Very Romantic,Touching Film

This movie is beautiful,The scenery is Gorgeous and the romantic scenes are touuching and Sweet!

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Based on the award-winning Australian novel by Tim Winton, DIRT MUSIC follows Georgie (Kelly Macdonald), the restless live-in girlfriend of widowed local fishing legend Jim Buckridge (David Wenham). She's become a substitute mother for his two boys. But then she becomes intrigued by local "dirt" musician Lu Fox (Garrett Hedlund), whom she spots poaching from their lobster traps. In a small town where secrets spread faster than germs, Georgie's attraction to Lu makes him a target.

Is it any good?

It's not necessary to read Winton's novel to realize that this adaptation doesn't live up to the award-winning work that's become the pride of Western Australia. For starters, director Gregor Jordan's adaptation has some noticeable plot holes and questionable motivations. It makes assertions it never backs up, and it introduces a character who seems to have an air of menace but then never pays it off. That may be because the movie veers significantly from the source material. One of the biggest head-scratchers, however, is true to the original text. Georgie and Lu upend their lives for their sexual relationship, but it never feels like love. So, why? There's no explanation, and while the course of human history shows that certainly people have lost their families for a night or two of indiscretion, Georgie and Lu take the risk to new levels. 

Crisp cinematography allows viewers to get lost in Western Australia and absorbed in its vast beauty. It provides an escape where your senses are awakened: You can almost feel the ocean breeze and smell the fishermen. That's all likely to be lost on teens, but the message -- if there really is one -- may not. Both Georgie and Lu are tormented by the pragmatic choices they made of their own accord, providing a clear example that taking the easy route isn't necessarily easy emotionally. While Dirt Music doesn't live up to its potential, there is, at least, a nugget of value.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the connection between grief, trauma, and depression. How can we help others going through these situations or emotions? How can we help ourselves?

  • Compare life in White Point, Australia, to life where you live. What influence do class, money, and power have? How are Georgie and Lu both stuck on the outside of the community, despite their different circumstances?

  • How is drinking depicted? Is it glamorized or made to look fun? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How is betrayal explored on several fronts? Is there ever a positive outcome? Why?

  • How is Western Australia a character equal in presence to Georgie and Lu in Dirt Music? What other films have you seen where the location influences the story? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

Themes & Topics

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