You might think that a murder case in a one-horse town of 11 people would be a little easier to solve. You would be wrong when it comes to the remote Australian outpost of “Last Stop Larrimah,” a true-crime documentary which gives free rein to the gossip and bickering of its mutually suspicious inhabitants.
Fran the meat-pie queen, her pub-owning rival, Barry, and his dog-loving bartender, Richard, are among those holding forth on the mystery of Paddy Moriarty — a “larrikin” (in Aussie parlance) who sounds less and less endearing. Paddy and his dog disappeared one night shortly before Christmas in 2017. The sometimes entertaining residents of Larrimah spin theories about each other for the film’s director, Thomas Tancred, who adds their past incautious interviews for television.
Tancred finds initial charm in the Australian embrace of big personalities like these sunbaked veterans of the Northern Territory. But the movie resembles reality shows that string together insinuations and trash-talk without knowing when to quit. The convoluted structure feels like overworked dough, with some dubious song cues and oddly dismissive treatment of police investigators. (As a murder mystery, the movie also games the system by postponing crucial information.)
The bloat saps the fun and intrigue from the film, which can’t navigate between playing up eccentricity and committing to the notion that hell can be other people (even in a one-time refuge). The infighting seems quaint in the first hour, but by the second, you just want to get out of town.
Last Stop Larrimah
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes. Watch on HBO platforms.