Lighter and softer than many other prison movies, Healing feels no less realistic for it. Focusing on the supposed rehabilitation that prison is meant to offer, this wonderful film symbolizes this through the relationship of a man and an eagle.
Viktor Khadem (Hany) has spent the last 18 years of his life behind bars for murder. He has very little understanding of the outside world, and has no real family left for him if he were to rejoin society. He is transferred to a minimum security facility, where he is approached by Matt Perry (Weaving), a prison officer who has instituted a policy where prisoners are placed in charge of rehabilitating injured eagles and other large birds of prey. The centerpiece of the movie is Viktor’s relationship with Yasmine, a wedge-tailed eagle that seems as injured as he is.
Joining the two main characters is a group of supporting acts that all have their own hopes and concerns and hurts in terms of their prison life. The way in which the film shows them all approaching their issues and healing from them may come across as over-saccharine at times. However, the masterful performances of Weaving and Hany manage to dissuade most of that. Both give riveting performances, brimming with honesty and intensity in their respective roles.
The setting is masterfully used, with great shots and cinematography, and it’s always great to see a native Australian movie, especially one where Hugo Weaving is allowed to do his thing so earnestly.
A bit more Green Mile than Shawshank, but with a softer focus that nevertheless seems more down to earth, Healing shows real people that the world has forgotten, and the remarkable way in which they grow as individuals. Definitely worth watching.