Home playdates website archives
While on a fishing trip, Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) and his friends find a girl's body in the river. Instead of returning home to report the discovery, they spend the day fishing. When the men finally return home and report the finding, no one can understand how they could have continued fishing with the dead girl right there in the water. Stewart's wife Claire (Laura Linney) is the last to know and as details filter out, she becomes deeply unnerved. As public opinion builds against the men, Claire's marriage is taken to the brink. Based on the short story "So Much Water, So Close to Home" by Raymond Carver. Directed by Ray Lawrence (Lantana).


I’m often asked where I find my stories. To date I have made a film from a novel, Bliss, a play, Lantana, and a short story, Jindabyne.

Towards the end of Jindabyne someone said that it was the last in a trilogy of Man Woman Death stories. It was an interesting notion inasmuch as, for me, Man Woman Death stories, along with all their permutations, are really the only ones to tell.

In 1985 I had just finished Bliss and I met singer/songwriter Paul Kelly. What we had in common was we were both reading short stories by American writers like Richard Ford, Rick Bass, Tobias Wolff and Jim Harrison. He asked if I had ever read Raymond Carver. I hadn’t! Paul gave me a copy of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

After that first Carver book I devoured all the others, including his essays and poems. I couldn’t  get enough. Along the way I read “So Much Water, So Close To Home” and that’s where Jindabyne started. It stayed with me for some 20 years. From the first reading I knew I wanted to make a film of it, but never thought I would.

In ’89 Paul wrote a beautiful song called “Everything’s Turning to White” which was based on “So Much Water….” In ’93 Robert Altman made Short Cuts. The story I was obsessed with was included in that wonderful film. After that I thought I would never get the opportunity. I knew I could make a feature out of it. That didn’t change. But why would anyone let me? Why would Altman, who had the rights along with Tess Gallagher? Why would they bother to sell the rights? It was a ridiculous dream.

I continued to work on other things. I wrote three screenplays and worked directing commercials. Like for most other people in this business, there are long breaks. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying. It was just that what I wanted to do didn’t coincide with what other people wanted to do. The planets weren’t lining up. They didn’t until 1999.

I had been working towards making a particular film with the writer Andrew Bovell. It was going nowhere and after almost five years we just had to give up. Andrew is firstly a playwright. He had just written a play called Speaking in Tongues which was on in Sydney at that time. I went along to see it out of curiosity and support. I wasn’t looking for a story. I didn’t even want to make a film at that stage. However, there was one moment in the play when one of the characters ignores a telephone message from his wife. It was at that moment I thought, “This would make a good film.” That’s where Lantana started.

Lantana was reasonably successful everywhere it was shown. It opened up a lot of doors. “What do you want to make next?”, I was asked. “There’s a short story by Raymond Carver,” I said, figuring that I had nothing to lose. That was in 2002. Four years later Jindabyne is released in Sydney.

Now I’m working on two others, one based on a song, the other an original screenplay. So I figure I have just about covered all the bases. Each time it’s a different journey. It’s like light driving at night. You know where you want to go but can only see as far as the headlights shine, and you never really know where you’re going to end up.