Starring Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham
Directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge)
Rated PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language
Appropriate for ages 13+
In Australia, on the brink of World War 2, an English aristocrat (Kidman) travels to the land down under to discover what her cattle baron husband has been up to while he’s been away. Upon her arrival, she discovers that her husband is dead and she is now in charge. When she hires a rough-and-tough local (Jackman) to aid her on a huge cattle drive, she finds passion on the range, along with a country at war both externally and internally.
One thing that director Baz Luhrmann is good at is creating a beautiful and unique looking film. Australia, the movie, is full of color and life with great sets and terrific aesthetics. There are many hauntingly beautiful scenes here including an amazing set piece involving a sabotaged cattle drive. And speaking of beautiful, you can’t ask for a better looking couple than Jackman and Kidman. If it were as simple as just putting these two together with a few big scenes, then this could be an A+ film.
Unfortunately, there are many things wrong with this film. First and foremost, this is a confusing movie to watch. I finally got it towards the end, but the first act merely introduces the main characters when it should be setting up the story so that we as an audience can clearly understand what’s going on. For about 45 minutes, I was completely lost. To make matters worse, the film was much longer than it needed to be, leaving us to stare at slow-moving scenes that brought the pacing to a droll.
I was also disappointed with the overall story. Not only was it confounding at times, but the dialogue was over-the-top as were the characters. I’ll choose now to say that I really hate that Jackman’s character, the drover, was simply named Drover. There is such little intimacy between the romantic couple that she never calls him by his real name, like she doesn’t even know it, and rather just refers to him as Drover for the entire movie. There are many other little annoyances throughout that just made me roll my eyes rather than enjoy the film.
Also, in a film such as this, there should have been a strong villain to sustain the tension, but instead we get a cowardly bully that should have been killed off in the first act.
Finally, I want to give away a spoiler here, but I won’t. Let’s just say that there was a huge error in sequencing in the third act that could have possibly saved the film, but instead it appears that Baz didn’t even see the possibility. C-