A Good Man’s Title Subject Could Prop Up Three Documentaries


Chris and Rachel Rohrlach’s story is one of those real-life tales that would need a massive make-under to work as fiction: Pregnant with Chris’s child when she was 21, Rachel had a massive stroke that left her a quadriplegic. The couple married anyway and built a life on a farm in the Australian Outback, with Chris tending to his newborn son, his invalid wife, and a flock of sheep. Drought threatens the farm 14 years later just as a second son is born; Chris’s big idea is to build and operate a brothel (legal in New South Wales) to keep the family afloat. Director Safina Uberoi struck gold with her title subject, a congenital joker with an implacable will whose load-bearing personality could prop up at least three documentaries. Supported by their families but facing community protest, Chris and his partners (two fellow farmers) fail to imagine that a well-built brothel with “nice, clean sex workers” could be construed as anything other than a foolproof business plan. The story of their disillusionment gets away from Uberoi, as well it might: Each potential stand-alone narrative gets tangled with the next, with none of them emerging to form a satisfying arc.

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