The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson

Director Leah Purcell / 2021 / Australia

Viewer advice: Contains themes of violence and oppression against Indigenous Australians, and sexual violence

Leah Purcell AM (She. Say., MIFF 2012; Black Chicks Talking, MIFF 2002) writes, directs and stars in this highly anticipated adaptation of her award-winning play and novel – a vivid reckoning with Australia’s colonial history through the tale of one woman’s resilience.

Molly Johnson’s husband is away droving cattle, leaving her alone to care for their four children at their remote Snowy Mountains homestead. Despite being heavily pregnant, Molly keeps various threats, from nature and other people, at bay. But when Yadaka, an Aboriginal man on the run from white law enforcement, intrudes on the sanctuary she has carved out, the brutal hardships and secrets that have followed them both throughout their lives must be confronted – and Molly doesn’t hesitate to do what’s needed to ensure her and her children’s survival.

Goa, Gungarri and Wakka Wakka Murri actor, writer and filmmaker Purcell has made Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story passionately her own, fusing classic western genre tropes with elements from her family’s history alongside the oppressions of early colonial Australia. The result is an enthralling feature debut and a scathing act of cinematic resistance against the disenfranchisement of First Nations peoples, with Purcell’s formidable star turn bolstered by stirring performances from Rob Collins (Mystery Road, Cleverman), Sam Reid (Lambs of God, The Hunting) and Jessica De Gouw (OtherLife, MIFF 2017; Riot).

“An exceptionally compelling outback western.” – Variety

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