Published on March 10th, 2009 | by simeon0
Review by Dr. Christine Koesterman
The very name evokes a sense of adventure and beauty. Therefore it was with much pleasurable anticipation that I settled down to preview the long anticipated epic. Visually it is a breathtaking movie, with great camera shots and moving camera angles of the Australian outback. Wildlife abounds and the color and drama of the Australian outback is there. In this aspect the movie lives up to expectations. Sadly, in most others it misses the mark on many levels.
The premise of the story is shaky to begin with. An English aristocrat has a cattle station in Australia which is struggling with drought and cattle theft. Nicole Kidman, who plays the pampered aristocratic wife who waits at home in the family mansion in lush, verdant England, is called to Australia to join her husband there. She does so reluctantly.
Once landed she very quickly meets our hero, the elusive bush cowboy played by Hugh Jackman who is involved in a fist fight which began in the local saloon. I found this part of the movie to be very confusing. I didn’t know if I was watching a drama, a western ( with Australian accents) or a comedy. A suitcase of lingerie falls victim to the fight, spilling frilly undergarments onto the dusty ground, to the consternation of Ms Kidman who kept screaming, “My things! My things!”
Jackman agrees to take her on a journey through the outback to the cattle station. This is the best and finest part of this long and slow moving film. With the camera taking us on the journey through the magical, mysterious and stunningly lovely colors of the land. Well worth the suffering I endured as this film dragged on. (Did I mention this movie was long?)
With cattle thieves, stampedes, murders, drought, aboriginal abuse, and war to top things off, there was too many story lines, and nothing was cohesive. The film could have made much more of the abuse of the Aboriginal children of mixed parentage and the fact that they were rounded up and forcibly relocated to an island off the coast to be educated. The children were taken from their mothers and their culture with the idea that the ‘black” should be taken out of them, a horrible and shameful part of Australian history. I was fascinated by the native Aboriginal actors and actresses. They made the moments of magic in this dull movie and stole the spotlight from both Jackman and Kidman easily.
I was left with a huge feeling of letdown. What had the potential to be a great and very interesting epic and view into Australian history in the end was a sadly confused vehicle to cash in on the stars Jackman and Kidman. Hugh Jackman did a fair job, although I had the feeling that he was simply playing himself in most scenes. Nicole Kidman left me cold. She played the part so woodenly and cool, an ice princess almost to the end. I am puzzled as to the casting of Nicole Kidman in the role of an English aristocracies. Her accent was labored and not authentic in any degree. Why not cast some one like Kate Winslet, for example, who would have been believable on all levels and would have gone a long way to making this story flow.
All in all a big disappointment. Watch it for the cinematography, and a peek into Australia’s past but don’t expect an exciting film. All the action you will have already seen in the trailers. I gave this movie. The Picture and Sound quality of the DVD greatly enhances the best parts of the film. The lavish visuals.
2 out of 5 stars. The biggest star by far in this movie is Australia herself.