Lantana - rated - STONE COLD

Lantana: an Ordinary Weed

Magnolia this ain't. At least that film prepared us for the premise of outrageous co-incidence. This tries to be Short Cuts or Three Colours - but it just lame.

I realise that Sydney is a small town and that people are likely to cross each others' paths, but can things really be that incestuous? How on earth did the writer (Andrew Bovell) resist the temptation to tie all the characters together? Couldn't Anthony La Paglia's son be getting his dope from Nik? Couldn't Russell Dykstra's character (how wasted was he!) be the builder doing La Paglia's renovations. Actually, that was a nice touch, the renovations in the background. That rang true.

A bunch of middle-aged people having sex or not having sex, and when not having sex, dancing salsa. Who could care less? It serves them right for living in Castlecrag.

I began to be disappointed after the first scene. The camera pans across a patch of Lantana. It is lush. The soundtrack is full of the sounds of summer: cicadas evoke past days at the northern beaches. But the film never lives up to the promise. It goes on for too long, dwelling on relationships and people we never get to care about. What was Geoffrey Rush thinking? And what was Barbara Hershey doing? Had she wandered onto Lawrence's set, mistaking it for the set of a remake of George Romero's Day of the Dead? (See The American Nightmare below).

Towards the end I kept looking at my watch thinking: how long can this go on? There were endless scenes of "denouement" but nothing seemed to click. The cinematography was unremarkable. Even the music (by the usually wonderful Paul Kelly) was ordinary. And , by the way, are there monkeys in Castlecrag? I'm sure I heard some on the overloud and distracting soundtrack.

© Michèle M Asprey 2002

This review is copyright. You must not use any part without my permission.