Nitram: The Making of a Mass Shooter-Entertainment News, Firstpost

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There’s a disturbing sequence of events in Justin Kurzel’s new psychological drama Nitram, where the young misfit of the title visits a local gun shop in Tasmania. He doesn’t have a gun license. Hell, he doesn’t even have a driver’s license. “No drama,” the vendor assures him as long as he has the cash. Indeed, Nitram he has a whole duffel bag, which he uses to buy a semi-automatic rifle and a shotgun. The seller is happy to throw in some complementary ammo boxes. As he amasses his arsenal, he sees a news report about “a misfit, a loner, a freak, a freak” who killed 16 pupils and a teacher at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland. “Evil visited us yesterday and we don’t know why,” says a police officer at the press conference. “We don’t get it. And I guess we never will. She’s the spark that lights the fire, as Nitram makes a trip to a second-hand dealer, a father of four, to buy a couple more semi-automatic rifles. Unlicensed. No background check. no drama

Until 35 people were shot dead and 23 others wounded in what became known as the Port Arthur massacre, Australia’s deadliest single-shooter mass shooting.

The massacre is not depicted, but is kept off screen. Because the horror of the aforementioned sequence of events lies so much in the ease with which a young man was able to purchase the weapons to carry out such a massive slaughter. With mass shootings in the US approaching 300 this year alone and the futile gun control debate back in the media spotlight, watching Nitram, a lingering restlessness grips the edges of our minds. That’s why Kurtzel’s portrait of a serial killer from 1996 feels like a story in progress. In the aftermath of the Dunblane and Port Arthur massacres, firearms restrictions were quickly enforced in the UK and Australia. To do the same in the US, it is necessary to convince all Second Amendment-loving Americans and the powerful gun lobby movement that the fundamental human right to life is more important than the right to bear arms. of fire. It is terrifying to think that each mass shooting and the victims do little more than add to the statistics of a continuing failure of public policy.

What drives the men to commit unimaginable acts of violence has been a career-long interrogation from Kurzel and his screenwriter Shaun Grant. His debut feature, snowy city, was a bleak portrait of homophobia manifesting as vigilantism. The last characteristic of him, The true story of the Kelly gangI missed the legend of a deranged 19th-century outlaw from the interior. With Nitramthe duo gives us a hard-hitting character study of a killer, keeping a watching distance and letting the quiet fear of inevitability act as his rallying force.

Caleb Landry Jones is fascinating as the killer, who is never mentioned by his real name: Martin Bryant. Nitram is his first name spelled backwards, a possible play on nit or nitwit, a nickname nicknamed by mean schoolmates. Jones has an inscrutable rather than pitiful figure with behavioral disorders. Behind his disheveled blond hair hides a lonely, asocial and restless young man. The self-knowledge of his mental illness and how others treat him as a result of it feed his daily anguish. He lives with his parents in Port Arthur and takes odd jobs like mowing lawns in the neighborhood to keep himself busy. Germain McMicking’s handheld camera follows Nitram from a close distance, capturing his sense of alienation as he navigates a world he doesn’t know how to fit into. A constant sense of dread grows with Jed Kurzel’s score. Or every time Nitram uses an air rifle for target practice. As the shooting begins, Kurtzel won’t let the camera leave Nitram’s car. He hangs back, as we hear the sounds of gunshots in the distance and out of frame. As Nitram enters the Port Arthur site, the scene cuts as soon as he draws the rifle from him, unwilling to exploit the tragedy for cheap thrills.

This is a film whose goal is not to exploit a tragedy or set the killer free, but to step back and identify possible seeds, clues and episodes that made possible a seemingly unthinkable act of evil. Therein lie cautionary lessons to possibly prevent future tragedies. Kurzel deftly juggles psychological insight with a journey from the last few months to the creation of a killer. Instead of explaining his pathology by building a direct bridge from his mental health issues to his act of terror, it is speculated that a combination of a variety of factors/failures (from family to institutional) led Nitram to do what he did. . We see a young man struggling to fit in with his peers, a broken healthcare system that prescribes antidepressants without therapy, and a country with lax gun laws.

Whenever the question of how such tragedies could have been prevented is raised, an argument is often raised that it is the responsibility of parents for crimes committed by children. The public is quick to blame family and upbringing for mass shooters. Kurzel is a bit more careful, showing an exhausted couple struggling to raise an irritable and volatile male child prone to tantrums. Judy Davis plays the mother with a steely-eyed coldness that belies her love for Nitram. As a father, Anthony LaPaglia plays a man more willing to please his son, hoping that moving to a farm in the country will do them all a lot of good. Despite the conflicting parenting styles, what is clear is that Nitram did not have a problematic parenting, at least at home. In a chilling scene, Nitram repeatedly punches his father in the head from him depressed and sprawled on the couch until he wakes up. His mother, fallen into a helpless stupor, can only watch.

Aerodynamic Nitram The creation of a massive shooter

Essie Davis as Helen

The film opens with a news report of children hospitalized after fireworks accidents. One of the young people interviewed admits that he has learned his lesson. Another, lying in a hospital bed, also admits the same thing, but also declares with a smile that he will continue to play with them. The young man is none other than Nitram. And that’s how we first meet Jones’s character: fireworks exploding in the yard over the screams of anger from the neighbors. When his mother asks his father to confiscate them, his father replies, “He’s not doing any harm.” Given the looming tragedy, those words sound ominous in the minds of viewers.

Luck changes for Nitram when he meets Helen (Essie Davis), a lonely middle-aged heiress who hires him to walk her dozen dogs. In time, he too becomes a stray in her pack, as she offers him refuge in her dilapidated but cozy mansion. It’s a home away from home where music always plays, with Helen and Nitram teaming up over Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Their relationship is definitely strange. When Nitram’s mother asks Helen, “Who is he? A husband or a son? Nitram’s mother’s cold rigor versus Helen’s warm comfort represent a study in contrasts. Only that fortune turns again. This time for the worse, when a tragedy occurs that puts Nitram on a path of no return.

Aerodynamic Nitram The creation of a massive shooter

Judy Davis (center) and Anthony LaPaglia (right) as Nitram’s mother and father

At once terrifyingly unhinged and finely modulated, Jones guides us down the rabbit hole of Nitram’s anger and resentment in measured steps. If his eyes are often hidden behind his long blonde hair, it is to give this carefully constructed character study a degree of opacity. Somewhere in the foreground, we come face to face with a force that cannot be tamed or tempered. Kurzel doesn’t put too fine a point on any of the reasons why the tragedy occurred. Although we’d all love a simplistic “What factor caused this?” Explanation, Nitram offers a sobering reminder of the often unknown nature of evil.

Prahlad Srihari is a film and music writer based in Bangalore..

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