Title – Strangerland (2015)
Director – Kim Farrant (feature debut)
Cast – Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving
Plot – Deep in the Australian desert in the town of Nathgari, Catherine (Kidman) and Matthew Parker (Fiennes) find themselves unwittingly under the public spotlight once more when their teenage daughter and son go missing in the harsh landscape that surrounds them.
“She’s out there somewhere”
Review by Eddie on 14/07/15
A film that for its entirety is crying out for a satisfying ending to make all that has come to pass worthwhile, Strangerland fails at its final hurdle and becomes a tale with huge potential that remains left in the dusty plains of the outback wherein the stories mysteries lie.
Strangerland is most certainly a unique disappearance mystery, a strange hybrid of domestic drama moulded into the intrigue of just what happened to the two Parker children, last seen wandering off into the great unknowns of outback Australia, but despite consistently threatening to become a great addition to the recently mostly barren Australian cinema classic handbook, Kim Farrant’s film just can’t gel into something totally recommendable or overly memorable.
First time director Farrant does show glimpses of a filmmaking talent, her images of the land and direction of some of her actors is of a high order and Strangerland’s tone is often nerve rackingly eerie and there’s an air of dread that permeates through most of film. From Maddison Brown’s performance as promiscuous teen Lili, the town of Nathgari itself and the looming shadow of the barren landscape that surrounds our characters mixed with Keefus Ciancia’s atmospheric score, all combine to give Strangerland a unique identity worthy of lead Nicole Kidman’s committed turn.
In the doldrums for some time now it’s great to see Kidman showcase her considerable talents once more with a layered turn as the conflicted mother of the lost children Catherine Parker. Kidman’s performance is both brave and unflattering and she’s a highlight of Strangerland’s ensemble. Ably supported by the evergreen Hugo Weaving as the local detective, Kidman elevates the film despite the overplayed presence of a distracting Joseph Fiennes who once again reminds us as to why his been largely forgotten about since his appearance in Shakespeare in Love. Young Australian performer Meyne Wyatt is also worthy of a mention in his role as young Aboriginal local Burtie.
Strangerland has moments; it also sucks you into its mysterious centre only to drop the bundle in the films last act. If Strangerland had in fact had a better catch on its hook it could’ve quite easily become one of, if not the Australian film of the year but as it stands it’s going to be remembered only for a timely reminder that Nicole Kidman can in fact act and lead a film. A disappointing result for a film that just might have been.
2 ½ high quality skate parks out of 5