They talk about all the Canadians in Hollywood but the
big invasion these days is from Australia. And the Aussies blend
in almost as well as the Canucks. If you read the recent People Magazine
story, it's not just Mel Gibson anymore. And they are starring in the movies
that got Oscar nominations. There's Nicole Kidman (Moulin
Rouge), Russell Crowe (A
Beautiful Mind), Guy Pearce (Memento),
Hugh Jackman (Kate & Leopold),
Heath Ledger (A Monster's Ball),
and Naomi Watts (Mulholland
Drive). Ok, Kate &
Leopold is only nominated for Best Song but you get the idea.
I knew about most of them being from down under but not Naomi Watts.
She's Kidman's best friend. They met long ago while auditioning for a bathing-suit
commercial. Lantana is made in Australia so, naturally it
stars a couple of well-known Aussie actors, Geoffrey Rush (Shine,
Shakespeare in Love) and
Anthony LaPaglia. I always assumed LaPaglia was American. You'll
recognize his face but maybe not remember where you saw it. He makes
lots of movies in supporting roles, usually playing a tough guy or a police
detective. In Lantana, he gets a starring role. He plays,
you guessed it, a police detective. This is one of those stories
where everything connects like in an Altman
film or a
Dickens book. The film opens with the camera pushing its way
through some shrubbery, actually it's a Lantana.
Anyway, there's a dead body in there. It's some time before we find
out who it is, although you may guess as you watch. The movie then
goes back in time a little and we get to know the police detective (LaPaglia),
his unhappy wife (Kerry Armstrong), his wife's unhappy psychiatrist (Barbara
Hershey), his wife's psychiatrist's unhappy husband (Geoffrey Rush), his
unhappy girlfriend (Rachael Blake), etc, etc. These people kind of
bounce off each other like billiard balls as their lives spiral down.
This isn't a happy film. But it is pretty good. The characters
are interesting, well, everyone is more interesting if they're Australian.
And the cast is outstanding. In addition to LaPaglia and Rush, Barbara
Hershey (she is American!) does a good turn as the unhappy psychiatrist.
And the story manages to keep moving through all the murky interrelationships
between the characters towards the Dickensian end wherein we find out who
died and how and why. This isn't the usual wacky whimsical film from
down under (Strictly Ballroom,
Muriel's Wedding, The
Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) but it is worth seeing.