The film opens with a montage of scenes of daily life in Australia in the 1970s: a rural school in the desert, the main street of an outback town, a traffic jam in the city, all being affected by unusually adverse weather conditions that suddenly appear. Only the local Aboriginals seem to recognize the cosmological significance of these weather phenomena.
During one of these “freak rainstorms” in Sydney, an altercation occurs among a group of Aboriginals in a pub, which results in the mysterious death of one of them. At the coroner’s inquest, the unexplained death is ruled a homicide and four men are accused of murder. Through the Australian Legal Aid system, a lawyer is procured for their defence. The circumstances by which he was contacted and retained are unusual, in that his law practice is corporate taxation and not criminal. He nonetheless takes on the case, and immediately his professional and personal life begin to unwind.
Plagued by recurring bizarre dreams, the lawyer begins to sense an “otherworldly” connection to one of the accused. He also feels connected to the increasingly strange weather phenomena besetting the city. His dreams intensify along with his obsession with the murder case (which he comes to believe is an Aboriginal tribal killing by curse, in which the victim believed). Learning more about Aboriginal practices and the concept of Dreamtime as a parallel world of existence, the lawyer comes to believe the strange weather bodes of a coming apocalypse.
The film climaxes in a confrontation between the lawyer and the tribe’s shaman in a subterranean sacred site beneath the city. Overcoming the shaman, the lawyer escapes to the surface to warn about the Last Wave. Seeing a huge wave looming high above Sydney, he collapses in despair in the last shot.
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