As a Helen Garner fan, of course I was keen to see this adaptation of Helen Garner’s book Joe Cinque’s Consolation, which she wrote in 2004. Joe Cinque was a young man who was killed by a lethal dose of heroin administered by his girlfriend, Anu Singh, who blamed him for her rather vague ‘ill-health’. Singh had told her friends, particularly Madhavi Rao, of her intentions but no-one acted definitively to stop the crime from occurring.
However, the film is very much an adaptation as Garner is completely absent in this film. In the book (as with This House of Grief), Garner is the lens through which we interpret the court case which she reconstructs from testimony, but which is completely manifested in words only. As a result, the tension of the film lies in waiting for the crime to occur -will it be tonight? is this where she does it? – with the question of why she does it less fully explored. However in the film, as with the book, I was left feeling angry (as Garner did) at the moral slothfulness of her friends, the utter pointlessness of Joe’s death and the inadequacy of the sentence that Singh was awarded.