Parents' Guide to

Nitram

By Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Harrowing drama based on a real Australian mass shooting.

Movie NR 2022 112 minutes
Nitram movie poster

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Even if you're familiar with the tragic events that this Australian drama-thriller is based on, it won't take away any of the film's gut-wrenching and devastating impact. Nitram takes its title from the name given to its central character, the filmmakers taking the decision not to use the real name of the perpatror responsible for one of the bleakest events in Australia's history that took place in April 1996. Set on the island of Tasmania, the film examines what led a loner and deeply troubled young man to commit a mass shooting that killed 35 people and injured a further 23. This is no sympathetic retelling and nor should it be. Displaying antisocial tendencies from the start, such as playing with fireworks, his behavior becomes progressively more dangerous to acts like pulling the steering wheel while someone is driving. All of which add to a crescendo to the film's devastating finale.

A film of this magnitude needed broad shoulders to bear its weight. Thankfully Caleb Landry Jones proves to be more than up to the task. Whether its icy calmness or full on screaming panic attacks, Landry Jones expertly judges when to dial it up or down. But wherever the dial is positioned, his performance helps us at least gain some understanding of how a troubled outsider became a mass murderer. Although it's Landry Jones' movie, he is ably supported by the excellent Judy Davis and Anthony LaPaglia, who play his caring but helpless parents. While Essie Davis once again shows her pedigree as the wealthy recluse, Helen, whose fate escalates Nitram's descent toward evil. A powerful watch that might prove too much for some, this a deeply troubling -- but sensitively told -- retelling of a very dark moment in Australia's not too distant past.

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