Australia (2008)

In a world on the brink of World War II, the aristocratic Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) arrives to inspect her husband’s failing cattle ranch and falls for the rugged Drover (Hugh Jackman).

I can never take Kidman seriously in any film she turns up in. I wasn’t too sure if her characterization was supposed to be satire or not. Then again, it is a Baz Luhrmann film so as the film began I realized I would have to keep my mind and options open in order to make my viewing of this film tolerable. This film tries to do so many things at once. It tries to be a slapstick comedy, an epic, a Western, a melodrama etc.

Visually, however, this film is a delight. The film takes time to ripen and has a great deal to say about identity, heritage and otherness. It plucks at your heartstrings and makes them sing. Hugh Jackman’s performance as Drover was fantastic, although the secondary characters fell foul of being quite underdeveloped unfortunately.

Despite the film’s muddled confusion concerning its own direction and genre, it was quite good although it took its own sweet time to reach its destination. The film could be just as good with a slightly trimmed running time, and with Elgar’s Nimrod variations played at the end it made it all the more stuff of melodrama. And is the film conscious of it? Is it ashamed? No!

This film was watchable. With pretty cinematography. That is also 3 hours of my life I will likely never get back.

MY RATING: *** / *****

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