Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Australia


Rating : 6/10
Running Time : 165 Minutes
Release Date : 26th Nov, 2008 (internationally)
Director & Co-Writer : Baz Luhrman ; Co-writer : Stuart Beattie; Music : David Hirschfelder
Starring : Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown, David Wenham, Brandon Walters

The movie is one big cliché and so quite predictable most of the time. But Baz Luhrman’s masterstroke was the angle of the aboriginal kid, endearingly played by Brandon Walters, which made sure we were kept hooked right through the film.


The first half an hour or so, though, relentlessly shows us all the cliché’s, the things we would expect. An English woman (Nicole Kidman), who’s come to Australia to sell her land and bring back her husband, who’s totally out of place there, traveling with a wagon load of bags, being told that the bar doesn’t allow any women / the hen parlour is next door. The rugged, Crocodile Dundee style, horse riding, tough talking man (Hugh Jackman), who works only for himself. The ruthless businessman, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants (Bryan Brown). And an assorted crew of beefy, ruddy, cussing, beer-swilling blokes, who seem to spend all their time in the bar.

We also see some magnificent landscape, showcasing the beauty of the Australian continent, herds of bulls, horses running by, pounding hooves, crystal clear streams, red rock cliffs. And, of course, we see kangaroos hopping by.


And we see the aboriginal kid, the half caste, called ‘Creamy’ by most of the white folk and Nullah, by those who love him. Grandson of King George, who has given him some of his mystic powers. Who lives in mortal fear of being caught by the coppers and taken to the mission (part of Australia’s infamous policy of resettlement). Who is torn between his desire to please Mrs Boss (Nicole’s nickname) and stick to his traditions and do the aboriginal walkabout with his grandfather.


While the first story (of Nicole / Hugh / Bryan) pans out as you would expect, it’s the story of the aboriginal kid which is more intriguing, provides the real emotional connect for the audience. And the film is almost two movies in one, as the first half deals with the business end of the story, while the second is more about the relationships between Nicole / Hugh and the kid and the impact of the World War II on Darwin and the rest of the Northern territories.

While it tries to be an epic, it lacks the depth (character wise or time wise) to truly be one. It’s a fair watch, though, a chance to check out Australia’s history and raw natural beauty. And their shameful Aboriginal past from not so long ago. Its an interesting film, without ever being enthralling. A good watch, rather than a must watch…

2 comments:

Prashant said...

Yes, the movie was predictable in most parts, but then why should a movie always be unpredictable for it to be good. Sometimes, when you get what you expect you enjoy it more.

For me the movie was too long and as mentioned in your review, it was more Australia Part I and Australia Part II. Part II being over stretched to the extent of becoming boring. They could have easily shortened Part II and merged part one into it, may be like reaching with the stampeding cattle during the war phase. Just a suggestion. Nullah and King George were a tad too gifted for my liking. Without any comparisons, this movie kept me awake while a similar one, “Gone with the Wind”, (similar for it incorporates real history into fiction), made me sleep half way.

I would probably give it 8 on 10 purely for cinematography. I haven’t seen anything so downright beautiful since “Out of Africa”.

Bhargav Saikia said...

I found Australia extremely long and boring. There's hardly anything exciting in it. Disappointing, I was expecting a lot after that fabulous Moulin Rouge.

My blog: http://www.bhargavsaikia.com