Now Playing: Review: Australia
Topic: Movie Reviews
I saw five movies in the movie theaters this year, which is something I haven't done since becoming a mother nearly four years ago. I saw Australia, Quantum of Solace, The Dark Knight (twice), and Iron Man. All four movies I saw during their opening weekends, and I enjoyed them all immensely for various reasons. But none satisfied my mushy, slushy, overripe, dramatic, romantic core like Australia. It satisfied all my expectations of sexy stares, double entendres, mean scoundrels, naked kissing, pretty clothes, and a sweaty, dirty, muscular Hugh Jackman. *swoon, swoon* I give Australia two quivering lips up!
In order to be fair, I must lay out my criticisms plainly. As of all movies of late, Australia was at least 15 minutes too long although I didn't get the feeling of it dragging in any part. The orchestral scores were too loud and dictatorial. It forced the audience's emotional reactions instead of letting the acting/writing/scene lead the audience to the desired reaction. The admiration of the Aboriginals was raised to almost a near-condescending level. (Perhaps it was Baz Lurhmann's trying to alleviate his version of white guilt. If this was an American-made movie about the love affair between two white people living in the Jim Crow south and who were enraged by their peers' racism and admired the Negroes quiet yet proud way of life, as a Black woman I probably would have found Australia offensive.) The critics were right with their middle-of-the-road reviews. Cinematically, it wasn't bad but it wasn't that good either.
With all that said, I wasn't disappointed by Australia. It wasn't as frenetic or eye-straining as Moulin Rouge or William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. Nicole Kidman's acting was pleasant as the Lady Sarah Ashley playing her both straight and with tongue firmly in cheek. (I've never found Nicole Kidman as pretty as she was by the end of this movie when she was lightly tanned and freckled with pink chapped lips and tousled hair.) Hugh Jackman yet again proved that he can be both a guy's guy and a girl's guy playing the rough-hewn Drover-a man who can control females of both the horse and human variety while drinking cheap rum from the bottle and with a hand-rolled cigarette dangling from his lip. The entire cast was a delight especially the young Brandon Walters who played the mystical bi-racial Aborigine boy at the center of most of the movie's non-romantic action.
The big scenes of the movie, a cattle stampede and the bombing of the Australian city Darwin, was worth the price of admission. It made my heart race and gasp with anticipation even when I knew the outcomes. (I will not reveal them here because I'm no spoiler.) There was one scene I really did enjoy, but only because of the audience's reaction. The Drover, who is an outcast because he was married to an Aboriginal woman and still lives among them, sets high society's tongues a wagging when he arrives at a ball to claim his lady. As the camera pans up to reveal the lean, well-dressed, clean shaven handsomeness of Hugh Jackman, there are audible contented sighs (from the ladies in the theater) and groans (from the men in the theater). But the sighs were louder, and that pretty much sums up Australia.