Review: The Dry film adaption has a gripping story full of twists, turns, secrets and lies

One of 2020's most popular books has been adapted for the big screen, Jane Harper's bestseller The Dry.

And Eric Bana in the lead role is just one reason to head to your nearest cinema.

I came in blind to this story - now the book is at the top of my Xmas reading pile. So, whether you have or have not read this slowburner of a small-town thriller, The Dry is a most excellent big-screen adaptation.

Eric Bana is Aaron Falk, a federal cop who finds himself returning to his hometown after decades away. The reason he goes is for the tragic funeral of his childhood best friend, the reason he stays is to investigate the horrific murder-suicide which just doesn't seem to ring true.

There are two time-scales and stories at play here for Aaron, the here and now, and the unsolved murder which forced him into exile as a teenager.

The events of both are painted against the years of crippling drought sapping the life from the land and the people who farm it. Director Robert Connelly along with his cinematographer Stefan Duscio deliver the tone and the palette to perfection.

Along with the human populace of this outback town, it's the visceral tinder-dry landscape and climate, which on the big screen you can almost taste and feel, which makes The Dry a brilliant reason to escape to an air-conditioned cinema this holiday.

Bana back on home turf delivering another cracking turn against such an intrinsically atmospheric Australian backdrop is worth the ticket price alone - add such a gripping story with all its twists and turns and small-town secrets and lies, it's a very happy New Year for lucky Kiwi cinema audiences.

Four-and-a-half stars.