Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Film Review: AUSTRALIA

Well after reading all the reviews on this film you would think that Baz delivered a lemon to the big screen. In fact, probably why it took me so long to go see it.

Well let me tell you that's just not the case. In fact it’s quite the opposite.

AUSTRALIA is film which evokes the golden age of film epics. It is so well suited the big screen as the viewer can appreciate the rich landscapes, the eccentric characters and the overall tale it tells. Set between the backdrop of Pre war Darwin [the last Australian capital city which was even up to recently was a backwater outpost] and the extreme Australian outback, it is essentially a love story between the two leads Lady Ashley [Nicole Kidman] & the drover [Hugh Jackman].
Now don’t get me wrong, the first twenty minutes of hearing Nic’s English accent is unsettling, as with how Baz does the whole quick play of how she comes to Australia [this verges on the camp – yes even for moi] thankfully this is only one part of the tale.

This film makes many references to great films of the past, the most obvious is the ‘Wizard of OZ’ of course. However there are some scenes he has deliberately lit like the Hollywood sound stages of the 1940’s which so suits the era of which the film is set. Theses scenes created by Baz are wonderful. The Victorian homestead of Faraway downs is so typically rural Australia. The Cocktail Party scene at Government house could easily been an ex-pat party in Hong Kong or Singapore of the era. The bombing of Darwin and aftermath of it are both shocking and devastating [no it is not a knock off of Pearl Harbor]. But the landscape of the bush, the hard earth and the extreme temperature, are the real scene stealer of this film's cinematography.
Speaking of which, the quality of each performer are equally as high. So many accomplished Australian actors [which the exception of Geoffrey Rush & Kate Blanchet!] are in this film. Jack Thompson plays a drunk Englishman in a supporting role which is very funny. Nicole is very good [minus the first 20 minutes of the accent] and Hugh, well he is very believable as the Drover [and yes he gets his shirt off a few times] and I didn’t even mind the ‘crikey’ slang he speaks. The young actor Brandon Walters is brilliant as the aboriginal boy caught between his traditional roots and the world of ‘white Australia’ of the 1940’s. In fact the entire cast does a marvelous job.

Go see it as it's meant for the big screen – Baz did a fabulous job with this.

4 Billabongs out of 5.

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