The premise of Craig Monahan’s Australian film about a convict’s relationship with a wedge-tailed eagle is reminiscent of the 1962 Burt Lancaster drama, The Birdman of Alcatraz, though with one major change. Where the US film was mostly set indoors, Healing is located in a low-security prison farm in Australian bushland, giving the bird (and metaphorically the film) the chance to spread its magnificent wings.

The film’s target audience however is unclear. Unlike the Australian pelican-and-boy movie classic Storm Boy, which captivated both adults and children, the too-literally named Healing is likely to bore the kids.

The film’s true star is the lyrical avian cinematography by Andrew Lesnie, of The Lord of the Rings renown. Down on the ground, Dony Hany plays bird-fancying Iranian prisoner Viktor with a gruff taciturnity that’s often alienating, despite the gradual deepening of his attachment to his winged friend.

Elsewhere there are too many distractions: a sub-plot about drug dealing in the jail is seriously uninteresting, and Viktor’s make-up is plain weird. Is he sunburnt (in which case why he is the only prisoner who is)? Or is this a poor attempt at making him look Iranian – and
if so, how come his visiting son