Friday, December 19, 2008


With time to kill and an urge to see something on the silver screen, I headed off with a few friends to Yongsan to see Baz Luhrmann's latest cinematic offering - Australia.

It was good, surprisingly good. I love his other films (in fact Romeo and Juliet is the only film I've ever seen twice in the cinema in the same week) and was worried that after his seven year absence from the screen he might not be able to pull off an almost three hour long romantic epic. Reviews from Australia and the U.S. had been mixed, but I had faith in Baz, if he could make a film about ballroom dancing exciting then there was every possibility that he could give us Gone with the Wind Aussie style. And he did...

Nicole Kidman is watchable, Hugh Jackman has turned into a 1940's heartthrob and David Wenham is perfect as the treacherous villain of the piece. The real stars though are Jack Thompson as Kipling Flynn the drunken accountant with a secret stash of "Poor Fella Rum" and Brandon Walters as Nullah the half white, half Aboriginal boy who Nicole learns to love. Walters also appears in Luhrmann's rather cheesey adverts for Australia (the country, not the film):

The film is not very subtle, fails to delve deeply into Australian history ( See Germaine Greer's fascinating attack in The Guardian and imdb goofs page for historical inaccuracies) and really overuses the word "crikey", but does entertain for the full 165 minutes, showing us amazing images of the Australian landscape as well as giving us the feeling that we are watching a 1940s Hollywood epic.

The use of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" throughout the film worked for me, but I can understand that some may find it overly sentimental or cliched. From the ukulele strumming and the snatches we hear in the film it seems as if Baz may have been influenced by the late great Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version.

Overall a fun and entertaining epic, but nowhere near the dizzying heights of Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet or Moulin Rouge. It does make me want to visit Australia though.....

P.S. For extra reading check out Hitsville's analysis of the film. Jack Thompson is the Cowardly Lion! Here's to the Gentleman!

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