CHILLY: Kieran Charnock plays Jack in Stray.


  • Drama; Cert M, contains adult themes; 1hr 43mins
  • Starring: Arta Dobroshi, Kieran Charnock, Joel Fili, Ross Harper, Mia Blake and Sean Crawford
  • Director: Dustin Feneley

STRAY, an independent film that broke local crowd-funding records, is an art piece that looks at how the disenfranchised see the world.

A slow-moving film, it revolves around recently paroled Jack (Kieran Charnock, The Rehearsal), who finds life on the outside a series of awkward and humiliating encounters with authority.

Out of frustration, Jack leaves Wellington and heads for the wilds of Central Otago where he holes up in a remote cabin.

Meanwhile, Grace (Arta Dobroshi, Lorna’s Silence) has just been released from a mental health facility. With nowhere to go and nobody to turn to, she survives by breaking into one empty holiday home after another until the fateful night she breaks into Jack’s.

The film is more a collection of vignettes stapled together by the commonality the two share – loneliness and a sense of not belonging. When the two finally meet, there is a sense of inevitability they will become lovers and that they will change each other’s lives.

The camera work by Ari Wegner is so moody the settings become the storyteller, mirroring the emotions we see from the actors and underlining the sense of dread that meanders its way through the storyline.

But the story itself is a dark horse. It is never made clear what exactly the two are escaping. Jack’s crime is never revealed, and Grace’s mental health only hinted at.

Light on dialogue and heavy in imagery, the scenes tend to drag on in silence long after their intent is established.

The next scene typically cuts in quickly, typically accompanied by a loud noise as if the director wants to startle the audience back to wakefulness.

Stray is an easy film to watch. It is full of moments that are so poignant one welcomes the slow pace and lingering visuals, so each moment can be appreciated to its fullest.