One of the things I'm always praising Netflix for is the variety of things to watch they offer. Sure, they don't have nearly everything, but they have a lot. In addition to the big names, you also find some very obscure things and some foreign things. This year I have been discovering some Australian things, though I didn't know any of them were Australian until I started watching. And of course since I have no idea how these three films compare to the average Australian production, I can't generalize and say, these movies had these traits and therefore these must be traits of Australian movies. However, these three movies did have certain traits, and I would like to take a look at those.
First, the three movies are: Broken Hill, Opal Dream, and The Tree. That is the order I watched them in and also probably the order of my interest (from least to most). These movies all dealt with small towns, nature scenery, broken spirits, difficult choices, community, and dreams or imagination. The last two movies felt like they were just a step away from magical realism--but they never quite crossed into that fantasy realm. They stayed in harsh reality, with imagination (that hardly seems the right word) acting as hope for the community (which can mean family, too) to come together and believe in.
The closest thing I have to compare the atmosphere of these movies to is movies of the South. Not movies about southern belles, but movies about the common people and the strange place they live in. That's something I found compelling: the nature element. The Tree obviously had the largest nature element, but they all used it as something more than just a backdrop. The land affects the people trying to live on its surface--whether subtly or more obviously.
There is also a tendency toward the psychological or symbolic. Thematically, it's almost like the message was always that there is no way to win except to decide that you have already won. And not in an existential way, not like Remember Me or a story about rising out of poverty. It's something unique.