In 2013 Screenwriter Yolanda Ramke’s short film 'Cargo' (Co-Directed by Ramke and Ben Howling) was named a finalist at Tropfest Film Festival. Flash forward to 2017 and the pair return to the big screen with a hauntingly powerful (and considerably longer) re-imagining of their post-apocalyptic thriller.
Produced by Kristina Ceyton ('The Babadook') and set among the stark, sprawling landscapes of outback Australia ‘Cargo’ takes place in a country devastated by an unknown virus and explores themes of love, survival, community and redemption.
Martin Freeman stars as Andy, a man who, having already lost his wife has just 48 hours to find a safe home for his infant daughter Rosie before he too succumbs to the deadly infection. Despite suffering from a myriad of increasingly painful side effects Andy’s desperation to save his daughter drives him onwards and his desire to save his child at any cost is a theme that will resonate strongly with parents in particular. Freeman embraces his role wholeheartedly, delivering an emotionally charged performance which perfectly captures the strength, fear and vulnerability of his multifaceted character and as a parent it was hard not to become emotionally invested in his journey.
Newcomer Simone Landers is equally impressive as Thoomi, a young indigenous girl who must face her own demons before she can return to the safety of her remote community. Thoomi’s childlike innocence hides a dark, painful secret and as her fate intertwines with Andy’s she becomes a beacon of hope for the desperate father. Landers handles the emotional and physical demands of her character with a maturity beyond her years, delivering a performance that is both heartbreaking and uplifting. The natural chemistry between she and Freeman adds a sense of authenticity to their friendship – which blossoms as they face threats from survivors and infected alike.
Veteran actor David Gulpilil stars as a mysterious man affectionately referred to as ‘The Clever Man’, while Susie Porter gives a brief, yet memorable performance as Andy’s wife Kay.
Set against a soundtrack of hauntingly beautiful traditional Aboriginal music the film’s impressive use of sweeping panoramic shots and aerial views perfectly highlights the isolation Andy faces in his final days; while also capturing the dramatic beauty of outback Australia. From its contrasting plains of red sand and green shrubbery to its thick bushland and sheer cliffs ‘Cargo’ is an expertly crafted visual feast which tugs at your heart strings from start to finish.