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HBO Doc on Australian Outback Mystery – The Hollywood Reporter


In Australian slang, a grub is a mischievous prankster, a loud-mouthed, uncultured, ill-mannered young man given to prankster traditions. At 70, Paddy Moriarty did not qualify as a youth, but on the other hand, he embodied this patriotic archetype, sparking friction among the townspeople of Bodnik cheerfully. Last Stop Larrimah his address. Even the kelp paddy was a troublemaker. The December 2017 disappearance of a man and death from the middle of nowhere in the Northern Territory, population 11, put Larima in the news circuit as investigative teams descended and uncovered a small community riddled with infighting.

American director Thomas Tancred makes his debut with this hilarious dissection of a town hardly big enough to name it; the uncut eccentrics who live there; And the shadow that remains over Larima with Moriarty’s cold case of Irish immigrants. The subtitle of the movie is A remote tale in 5 chapters, demonstrating a much tighter and more orderly structure than Tancred and his team of editors have rambled somewhat, sometimes as long as two hours. But the unique setting and its colorful inhabitants make for a unique study of true crime.

Last Stop Larrimah

bottom line

The making of a legend from behind.

place: SXSW Film Festival (highlighting documentaries)
exit: Thomas Tancred

1 hour 57 minutes

Not that the police and rescue responders who came from all over the Northern Territory, far outnumbering the locals, ever produced compelling evidence of crime, despite cruising the surrounding bush on horseback and quad bikes, in helicopters and on foot with teams of Police dogs. But the disappearance of Moriarty, who was last seen staggering his way home from Larima’s bar with a few beers, has a whiff of obnoxious play to rival any Agatha Christie and a cast of characters whose grudges, animosity, or even just passing bums reveal a potent set of suspects. potential.

One of the wildest theories about wild speculation is that the innkeeper at the time, Barry Sharp, hit Buddy on the head in a moment of rage, inadvertently killing him, then cut him up and fed him to his pet alligator. Another school of thought suggests that coffee shop owner Fran Hodgetts—and the teahouse makes a shoddy operation seem so much greater than it was—took a leaf out of Mrs. Lovett’s book Sweeney Todd And she turned Buddy into the filling for her famous meat pies. The fact that Buddy had taken such great pleasure in antagonizing Fran for years, making it known that even his dog wouldn’t eat her pies, may have caused fantasies to run riot.

Suspicion also fell on Fran’s gardener, Owen Lowry, a taciturn “bush”, or long-dweller of the Outback, who in his younger years traveled the tent-boxing circuit as a stripped-down fighter. The animosity between Owen and Paddy spills over into confrontations between their two dogs, but despite overwhelming evidence, no arrests are made. Lowery is the only person of interest who refuses to speak with the filmmakers; His lawyer’s responses are strictly “no comment”.

Other locals get in on the raised eyebrows, finger pointing and speculation including pub bartender Richard Simpson, an irascible type known for clashing with townspeople; and Carl and Bobby Roth, rivals to Barry over leadership of Larima. This put them at odds with Paddy, whose daily ritual of holding court at the tavern automatically made him a Barry loyalist.

Through old-timers like Cookie, Lenny, and Fran’s ex-husband Billy – who lives in a caravan next to her property, “just to piss her off” – a picture of who Paddy was emerges.

He traveled to Australia at the age of 19 in the mid-1960s on an immigration ship from Ireland (fun fact: that ship was later converted into a cruise ship on which my family and I spent a few Christmas holidays sailing to the Pacific Islands) and hitchhiked. Northern Territory as a whip breaking breeder for the next half century. Poor behavior gets him banned from the pub and he is then run out of town on his last home before Larrimah. Like many residents there, he stopped for a beer at a remote spot on Stewart Highway and never left. Some locals describe him as a happy-go-lucky guy with an infectious laugh, who everyone loves; Others say that everyone hated him.

assumed a Bonanza Fans, Paddy called his home the Larrimah Ponderosa Ranch. The fact that his keys, wallet and a cowboy hat he had never seen before were found there leads investigators to conclude that he arrived home from the bar on the night of December 16th. maker.

Besides the mystery of Paddy’s disappearance, Tancred weaves together raw details from Larrimah’s history. The area saw its heyday during World War II as a transport junction for the military, but when fuel tanks of larger capacities came into being, its importance as a roadstead declined.

The document makes the implication that it takes a certain kind of rough-and-tumble personality to choose to live today in an off-the-grid place with no cellphone reception, the nearest police station about 50 miles away and the nearest major shopping and supply destination requiring a two-hour drive each way. But while more than one interviewee speculated that the Paddy saga would finally wipe the city off the map, the details revealed in the closing chapter testify to its resilience.

Interspersing the story with sunsets in the hinterland of pretty pink, Tancred seems at times so amazed—perhaps even too condescendingly—by the simple charms of the locals to tell the tale with utmost lucidity or impetus. The film cannot be compared to the depth and detail of the national broadsheet AustralianThe 2018 Crime Podcast Episode, Lost in Larima. The director also gets a little sweet with some of his musical choices, rambling on old Lee Hazlewood tracks to establish the place as a bootleg, Down-Under Old West.

In the end, the film’s attention pauses between a snapshot of a place stuck in time and its examination of the unsolved case that has come to be redefined. Last Stop Larrimah of being a first-rate document on true crimes. But nonetheless there are plenty of tasty items here. By the time Peter Allen’s nasal vocals hear the closing moments on the tender anthem every Australian loves to hate, “I Still Call Australia,” you might find yourself feeling a connection to the Larima folks while still contemplating which one of them offered Buddy Moriarty.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.