“A Dingo ate my baby!” is the infamous line for which A Cry In The Dark is known and is a line that can be used to sum up the movie. Although interestingly it is never said in the actual movie “A dingo’s got my baby” is used… but I guess the imagery of a kidnapping dingo isn’t as funny as a ferocious baby-eating one and therefore the phrase doesn’t carry the same iconicness.

Prior to watching the film I had almost no knowledge of the situation other than a vague idea that a dingo ate a baby in Australia at some point and the world was obsessed with saying as such. In fact the most I knew about it was from Seinfeld:

It was a surprise to me then when a majority of the film turned out to be a courtroom drama. The film stars Meryl Streep and Sam Neill as the parents who leave their baby alone in a tent for a few minutes; only for a dingo to run off with it. Australian media soon pick up on the story and somehow the police become convinced that the baby was murdered and is being covered up by the parents. Leading to several gripping court-cases… which make fantastic viewing; the story is full of so many twists and turns that it is impossible to predict (unless you’re familiar with the true story behind it).

Throughout the film we also get to see reactions by random Australians to what is happening in court; be this punters at a bar gossiping, or chit-chat at a barbers shop. These moments serve only to add extra tension to the film as we see from another side how divided the country is as to whether the baby was murdered or not.

Outside of the courtroom and the reactions to it, is the place where the film falls down. There are lots of bloated scenes between Streep and Neill that just draw out the film, as neither of the actors seems truly heartbroken by the events. This could have been done purposefully; either in an attempt to build up the ambiguity and tension in the courtroom scenes (and it does), or because this is how their real-life counterparts acted. However it just distracts us from the things we care about – the courtroom.

A Cry in The Dark is a tense, courtroom drama based on an extremely interesting true story. It’s just a shame that the story behind the film is more interesting than the film itself.