Love is a battlefield
Cinema Nova - Tuesday 30 June 2015, 6:30pm
Running time: 112m
Country: Australia / Ireland
Cost: $0 (AFI screening)
Rating: 8/10 (ME 4/10, DP 4/10)
Strangerland is an atmospheric Australian drama set in the remote desert town of Nathgari. It is centred on a dysfunctional family that is unsettled in their environment and struggling to survive. Matthew Parker (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Catherine (Nicole Kidman) discover that their two children, promiscuous Lily (Maddison Brown) and younger brother Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton), who both feel trapped I their “sh*t-hole of a town", have mysteriously disappeared shortly before a massive dust storm hits the town. As the temperature rises and their chances of survival drop sharply with each passing hour and day, the locals join the search, led by the local policeman, David Rae (Hugo Weaving).
Nicole Kidman is outstanding in Strangerland, playing a frustrated wife and mother and displaying major vulnerability. The distinct lack of chemistry and between her and Joseph Fiennes assists in portraying the chasm that has opened between this husband and wife. Catherine reveals a pent up sexuality, completely at odds with the up tight and seemingly repressed Matthew and their lack of intimacy further increases the gap between them. Strangely, their individually deplorable acts leave you wanting more. In contrast, a strong connection becomes evident between Catherine and police officer Rae (who just wants to do whatever is required to get the children back home) as the search progresses. Hugo Weaving delivers one of the film's most touching scenes as he opens up to Catherine about his failed marriage.
The cinematography in Strangerland shows off the harsh Australian landscape brilliantly and an eerie score heightens the mood of tension throughout the film. This is a story about being lost, in more ways than one and while it is often difficult to watch, at the same time you can't look away. It is a compelling drama filled with plenty of intrigue and cleverly leaves the viewer with many unanswered questions. Definitely recommended! (DP)