Visual Cult Magazine is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Western Australia is quickly becoming a popular location for filmmakers, drawing both domestic and international productions and stars. The Western Australian capital of Perth has served as a filming location for several noteworthy films. Urban cityscapes, suburban areas, vacant white-sand coastlines, unspoiled bushland, Jarrah forests, and world-class vineyards are all within a few kilometers of the city center.
In general, Perth is a great place to shoot a movie. Being smaller than other major Australian cities, it is more welcoming to filming. In most cases, authorities would not impose costs on productions that help to encourage tourism, and charges are seldom imposed on shootings in national parks. You can see some of the finest movies ever made in Perth right here, and how you can watch them yourself!
1. Last Train to Freo (2006)
Director(s): Jeremy Sims
Writer(s): Based on the 2001 play The Return by Reg Cribb
Cast: Steve Le Marquand, Tom Budge, Gigi Edgley, Glenn Hazeldine, Gillian Jones, Lisa Hensley, Reg Cribb
IMDb Rating: 6.5/10
Runtime: 1h 29m
Australian director Jeremy Sims adapted Reg Cribb’s play for his 2006 drama film Last Train to Freo. In the film, two strangers, a tough-talking small-time criminal called Gaz (Steve Le Marquand) and a calm, restrained office worker named Fred (Tom Budge), get into a heated and violent brawl with two other passengers while riding the train.
As the voyage progresses, the four men’s conflict grows, and the film examines masculinity, class, and aggression. Two other passengers, a rich businessman, and his flirty girlfriend add to the atmosphere by provoking the guys. Le Marquand and Budge provide notably subtle and powerful performances, and theirs are among the film’s many highlights.
With just one set and a small cast, director Jeremy Sims creates an atmosphere of palpable anxiety in his film Last Train. The movie takes place entirely inside the confines of a single railway car as we travel from the Perth suburb of Midland to the city of Fremantle.
Last Train to Freo explores the shadowy sides of humankind and the complexity of masculine interactions, making for an impactful and thought-provoking picture. It’s a moving drama that does a great job of capturing the spirit of Perth and its environs.
Experience the palpable tension in this claustrophobically beautiful film by getting your copy now on Amazon.
2. Bran Nue Dae (2009)
Director(s): Rachel Perkins
Writer(s): Rachel Perkins, Reg Cribb
Cast: Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins, Geoffrey Rush, Deborah Mailman
IMDb Rating: 6.2/10
Runtime: 1h 25m
The Australian musical comedy-drama film Bran Nue Dae (2009) is directed by Rachel Perkins and is adapted from Jimmy Chi’s theatrical musical of the same name. The film takes place in the late 1960s and follows the trip of a young Aboriginal man called Willie (Rocky McKenzie) as he makes his way back to Broome, a seaside town in Western Australia after running away from a Catholic mission.
Willie meets an eclectic cast of personalities on his travels, from a German hippy couple to a boozy Irish priest to the alluring musician Roxanne (Jessica Mauboy). There is a lot of singing and dancing in the picture, and the ensemble gives enthusiastic performances.
Willie rediscovers his Aboriginal roots and gains the confidence to speak out for himself and his community as Bran Nue Dae delves into universal themes of self-discovery and cultural pride. The picture also addresses some of the darkest parts of Australian history, such as the stolen generation and the oppression of Indigenous communities.
Champagne-popping excitement is the goal of many musicals, and Perkins achieves it beautifully. Despite some shaky narrative (most notably a ridiculously constructed finale that turns coincidence into a joke), the film’s exuberance ultimately wins out. Critics were unimpressed, but the public spoke (or sang) loud and clear: Bran Nue Dae was a smashing success, grossing over $7.5 million in its own country.
Even if Bran Nue Dae doesn’t change you forever, it’ll make you smile. Get your copy now on Amazon.
3. Looking for Grace (2015)
Director(s): Sue Brooks
Writer(s): Sue Brooks
Cast: Odessa Young, Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh, Myles Pollard
IMDb Rating: 5.2/10
Runtime: 1h 40m
Sue Brooks helmed the Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh, and Odessa Young drama Looking for Grace, released in Australia in 2015. Grace (Young), a teenager from Perth, Western Australia, runs away from her home and her family sets out to find her.
Grace’s parents (Mitchell and Roxburgh) and a former detective (Terry Norris) all play significant roles in the hunt for their daughter. We get a deeper look into the family’s intricate dynamics and the secrets they’ve been holding from one another as the plot progresses. Grief, mourning, and the frailty of human connections are all explored in the film.
Taking a page out of Quentin Tarantino’s textbook, Brooks used a fragmented narrative structure, moving between points in time to piece together a picture of a dysfunctional family, all of whom are searching for a more meaningful existence.
The script by Brooks is hilariously insightful of the clumsy interactions between apprehensive characters. Roxburgh and Mitchell provide in fine comedic performances, but it’s Terry Norris, who plays an aging private eye who tags along with the couple on their quest, who steals the show. Looking for Grace, as a whole, is a touching and compelling drama that explores the nuances of kinship and the universal search for belonging as well as meaning.
4. Japanese Story (2003)
Director(s): Sue Brooks
Writer(s): Alison Tilson
Cast: Toni Collette, Gotaro Tsunashima
IMDb Rating: 6.8/10
Runtime: 1h 50m
Toni Collette and Gotaro Tsunashima star in Japanese Story, an Australian romantic drama picture released in 2003 and directed by Sue Brooks. The film follows Sandy (Collette), a geologist from Perth, Western Australia, as she is assigned to escort Hiromitsu (Tsunashima), a Japanese businessperson, through the rural Pilbara area.
Sandy and Hiromitsu, despite their linguistic and cultural differences, develop a profound and unforeseen bond as they spend more time together. When tragedy arises, however, the couple must contend with the truth about their relationship and the difficulties they have in communicating across cultural and emotional divides.
Culture shock, miscommunication, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships are all examined throughout the film. The film is filmed beautifully, with contrasting wide establishing views of the Pilbara region and tight, intimate snapshots of the protagonists.
Not only does the film’s unexpected turn of events stand out for what it entails, but also for the abrupt change in rhythm it generates in the film’s entire trajectory. The film’s greatest strength lies in the daring manner it builds to a persistent final stretch of constant tension. Elizabeth Drake’s flowing, orientalized score, which grates during an earlier sex scene, truly excels here and helps push the drama to a rational end.
Japanese Story is a stunning cinematic masterpiece that skillfully showcases the breathtaking beauty of Western Australia. Through its intricate dialogue and diverse cultural allusions, the film delves into the complexities of human relationships and communication, leaving a profound emotional impact on its viewers.
This cinematic masterpiece has left an indelible mark on audiences worldwide, and you could be one of them by buying your copy of Japanese Story on Amazon.
5. Red Dog (2011)
Director(s): Kriv Stenders
Writer(s): Daniel Taplitz
Cast: Koko, Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor, John Batchelor, Noah Taylor
IMDb Rating: 7.3/10
Runtime: 1h 32m
The fascinating life of a dog that spent the 1970s wandering the vast Western Australian desert is the subject of Red Dog, Kriv Stenders’ compelling comedy-drama from 2011. Every stop on his travels is an exciting experience, and he seems to leave an indelible effect on the lives of everyone he encounters.
Along the way, Red Dog’s devotion, personality, and hijinks endear him to locals and tourists alike, cementing his status as a Western Australia legend. Red Dog is a thrilling voyage across the wide and rocky outback, and it will warm your heart along the way along with an abundance of comedy and an atmosphere of adrenaline.
The video explores profound ideas like friendship, companionship, and the inseparable bond between humans and animals. Starring Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor, and Koko, the canine phenomenon who plays Red Dog in the film, the cast is both remarkable and varied.
Red Dog was an overwhelming hit at the box office and in the critics’ eyes, making it one of the most financially successful Australian films of all time. The film’s energetic pacing, vibrant camerawork, and emotionally resonant performances have all garnered praise. Because of the film, Western Australia’s actual Red Dog monument became a cultural icon and major tourist attraction.
A charming and fascinating film, Red Dog captures the spirit and fascination of Western Australia and its people well. This short warmly depicts the enduring power of friendship and the unbreakable bond between humans and their animal counterparts.
Witness Red Dogs’ many shenanigans — he may just change your life, too! Buy your copy on Amazon today.
6. Hounds of Love (2016)
Director(s): Ben Young
Writer(s): Ben Young
Cast: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter
IMDb Rating: 6.5/10
Runtime: 1h 48m
Australian filmmaker Ben Young helmed the psychological thriller Hounds of Love in 2016. The film takes place in 1980s Perth, Western Australia, and is inspired by the true story of a man and a woman who kidnapped and killed many young women.
Vicki, played by Ashleigh Cummings, is a teenager who is kidnapped by John and Evelyn White (Stephen Curry and Emma Booth) in this thriller. Vicki is brutally abused both mentally and physically by the couple as they attempt to exert control and authority over her.
The film gradually reveals John and Evelyn’s convoluted history together, including the heinous atrocities they perpetrated. The film examines topics such as power, authority, and the destructive impact of domestic abuse on its characters.
The performances by the actors in Hounds of Love have been praised by critics, especially Emma Booth’s eerie and unnerving depiction of Evelyn. In addition to its uncompromising depiction of domestic abuse’s horrific reality, the motion picture was hailed for its evocative and dramatic narrative.
Hounds of Love, as a whole, is a very unsettling and distressing picture that explores the shadowy sides of the human condition. This film is not for the weak of heart, but it will leave you with a lasting impression if you can get through it.
7. Breath (2017)
Director(s): Simon Baker
Writer(s): Based on Breathe by Tim Winton
Cast: Simon Baker, Elizabeth Debicki, Samson Coulter
IMDb Rating: 6.7/10
Runtime: 1h 55m
Filmmaker Andy Serkis helmed Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy in the biographical drama Breathe, released in 2017. The movie is based on the life of Robin Cavendish, a British man in his twenties who contracted polio and suffered paralysis from the neck down.
Robin was given little chance of survival by doctors, yet he defied the odds by refusing to give up on living and went on to become a trailblazer for the rights of persons with disabilities. Robin was able to leave the hospital with the help of his wife, Diana, and a close circle of friends, and he has since continued to enjoy a rich and rewarding life.
The film is an inspiring ode to Robin’s lifetime and lasting legacy, and a triumph of human connection and will. It delves into topics like being disabled, accepting oneself, and fighting for one’s life’s meaning.
Critics praised the cast of Breathe, especially Andrew Garfield for his sophisticated and moving portrayal of Robin. Claire Foy is also fantastic in the role of Diana, perfectly conveying the character’s anguish and fortitude.
As a whole, Breathe is an impressive and motivating film that serves as an inspirational illustration of the remarkable capacity of the human spirit to overcome adversity. It’s a touching tribute to an exceptional individual and a demonstration of the tenacity of companionship and affection.
These are only a few of the many excellent films that have been shot in Perth and Western Australia. Perth has had its fair share of cinematic magic, from indie darlings to Hollywood blockbusters. and certainly will continue to do so in the future. Tell us if there are any of your favorites that we missed.