Adam Goodes in the documentary The Australian Dream
Adam Goodes in the documentary The Australian Dream

MOVIE REVIEW: Why this Goodes doco will shock film-goers

It is no understatement to put on record there will be no more important film released in this country in 2019 than The Australian Dream.

The second of two documentaries to feature indigenous Australian Rules champion Adam Goodes, it leaves a devastating first impression.

Not just for its urgent reporting from the frontlines of race relations in Australia right now. But also for how it methodically surveys a fault line that has been opening up beneath us as a nation for centuries.

While it would be an overstatement to predict The Australian Dream will effect a definitive changing of minds in the short term, the calibre of informed discussion it is determined to provoke will heal more wounds than it will open in the long run.

Prospective viewers of this landmark production should be warned it offers no comfy ideological fence on which to sit.

Goodes (left) tells his story in The Australian Dream.
Goodes (left) tells his story in The Australian Dream.

All of the anger, resentment and cultural disconnects that exist between blackfella and whitefella are continually to the fore as The Australian Dream tracks the torrid chronology of Adam Goodes' life so far.

The documentary can be unapologetically combative in tone at times - incendiary, even - but never at the expense of an intense emotional connection forged with its audience from the opening scenes.

For those who think they are already all across the Adam Goodes story and what it represents, the fresh perspective achieved here - at once maddening, saddening and genuinely inspiring - will come as a distinct shock.

Sure, the doco hits all the bullet points expected from a recounting of the fraught closing phase of Goodes' career as an elite sportsperson of colour.

The finger he pointed into the crowd that one fateful evening. The many, many fingers that were pointed right back at him as a result.

His time as Australian of the Year. A year in which a multitude of Australians howled him down for speaking up about what he believes in.

And the booing. The incessant, relentless booing. That ugly, murky tsunami of sound that ultimately swept Adam Goodes away.

The film leaves a devastating impression.
The film leaves a devastating impression.

Not just from the sport he once loved, or the public profile he once enjoyed. But far, far away from the strong and resilient human being he once knew himself to be.

Unlike the recent TV doco The Final Quarter, Goodes himself is an active presence in The Australian Dream, giving a clear, strident and soulful voice to what he and others have gone through as indigenous Australians.

So too are many other protagonists (both intentional and unintentional) in his story to date.

Among those interviewed are Goodes' former coaches Paul Roos and John Longmire, teammate and cousin Michael O'Loughlin, Collingwood club president Eddie McGuire, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, ex-player and current commentator Gilbert McAdam (best on ground when it comes to raw warmth and honesty) and Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt.

Perhaps most influential of all contributors is journalist and author Stan Grant, whose prolific recent writing on the past, present and future of indigenous Australia is redeployed by the documentary with eloquent force, reason and emotion.



Make no mistake. When it comes to acknowledging and addressing where Australia stands as a nation on racism, The Australian Dream has a powerful potential to get more people thinking, talking and listening to each other than ever before.

A little more of the latter, and it just could bring an end to what, for some, has been an Australian nightmare.

The Australian Dream will be released nationally tomorrow.



Rating: Five stars

Director: Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough)