Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown
Australia is long. By the end of it you know you have witnessed a love story between Kidman and Jackman and loads of other stuff, but what, you can’t quite figure out. There’s a bit of war thrown in, the trauma of an aborigine child, meat war and this aborigine witch doctor of sorts who finds it crucial to strike Amitabh Bachchan’s pose from Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.
With the notion of sounding ignorant, the film isn’t quite what you walk in expecting. It has the epic qualities, but just doesn’t make the cut. Sometimes the feeling of a farce hits you while watching the film. It just seems so wanting to be this glorious epic that the pretense of it kills you.
What’s it about? Chances are you are never going to figure out anything beyond the love story that bores. As it goes, Lady Ashley (Nicole Kidman) inherits a cattle ranch in Northern Australia. But with a monopoly run by her competitor Carney (Bryan Brown) in the meat trade with the army in Australia, she seeks the help of Drover (Hugh Jackman).
Agreeing to help and break the monopoly, they embark on a journey driving 1500 cattle across the rocky lands of Australia. Set amidst the bombing of Darwin by Japan and the racial slur that existed; the film also traces the plight of Nullah (Brandon Walters), the death of his mother, the entry of Lady Ashley as a motherly figure and their separation. Oh yes, and thrown in is the love story between Jackman and Kidman and not to forget, a revenge seeking character.
In a sense you think that both the initial and the sequel of the film are put together to make this long film. The film is so filled with this overdose of masala that it feels like a full-blown Hindi flick and in all honesty you don’t know what to make of it. There action, romance, drama, tragedy; the complete works and that, is the biggest problem with this film. There’s everything and in that nothing quite takes centre stage.
Having said that, if there is any reason to watch this film it is the scale of this film. The film does have the outback, rustic feel to it. With its Arial shots and brilliant pans, you feel as though you have covered the length and breadth of the continent. It’s technically superb. The editing, the use of music, the scale, the camera work, all of it. Individually the stories work tremendously, there are times when you want to get up and go because you think the movie is done, but alas it continues.
The length of the movie bothers as nothing is tackled in its entirety. Even the performances are a bit half baked, so to say. Jackman certainly looks and acts the part. He does a great job living the character. On the other hand Kidman fails to impress, she merely delivers lines and avoids giving us her best. Actors such as Brown and Walters do their part, but because they are most likely playing second fiddle to the lead characters, you don’t really get to see what they are capable of.
Technically proficient, decent performances, brilliantly shot, and marred by a confused plot; Australia is best for DVD viewing. Ensure you have bought yourself a great set of surround speakers and an HD television, that’s perhaps the best way to enjoy this film.