Director:Kim Farrant
Writers:Michael Kinirons, Fiona Seres
Stars:Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving

Dark dramas can be emotionally disturbing; a relentless ebb and flow of emotional pull and crashing honesty. It must be careful not to bend towards schmaltz or surrealism; the more invested we are as viewers, the stronger the emotional zenith. The caveat for Strangerland is it is not for all. As wonderful a drama as it is. Truth is often hard. Plus, younger audience members will not have had life-experience to grasp the gritty honesty shown. Think Eugene O’Neill. An admirer of Long Day’s Journey or Moon for the Misbegotten will adore these emotional workings; its riptide undercurrent and unfinished tableaus.

In plain English? It’s wicked dramatic and the teens are not the stars, the grown ups and their keep-from-the-kids emotions are. It’s rather noir-like actually.

Amazing terrible truths are churned upon the screen until your whole being is glued. You are witness to a small family cracking, breaking, imploding, snapping violently and then fold in towards repair.

All this cataclysmic inter-family brouhaha is unfolding in a tiny Australian desert town people kind of made happen – in the way we do. The surrounding land seems none too keen on the intrusion, and feels free to pluck townsfolk away, vanished, at random…or so the local myths go.

And, new to this area is the Parker family (Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Madison Brown, and Nicholas Hamilton). From frame one, you understand, things are a pinch off – but what. Oddly, the son walks all night as he can not sleep, and the daughter is a tad over-sexual at a minor age of 15. In fact, this demotion of the family to the strangerlands, is due to her recent covert meanderings with her much older sleazstack-ish teacher. The tension left in the affair’s wake is as taut as any aerial act’s wires.

Lillie (Madison Brown) is a languishing Lolita. Though, boys her age are fair game too. She’s very unhappy here. So is her kid brother…

The evening after a very metaphoric dust storm hits, igniting the emotional fury ahead both children are no where to be found. And, as this place borders a literal desert, parental panic ensues. The police sort of get on, but the family’s past threatens to swallow them all over again. Where are these kids?

The cast is superb. Joseph Fiennes, Mr. Parker, is akin to well-aired Justin Isosceles 2010 red. He is a cut of grass-fed grade A mansteak. ‘Course, that’s just part of his genealogy; Ralph, his elder brother, is aging like a fine Giuseppe Quintarelli amarone. Yet, while yes the Fiennes men’s beauty is well thrown about for idle time man-gawking in some circles, the talent of the whole Fiennes clan never ceases to strike awe.

Then there’s Mrs. Parker, aka The Goddess of Alabaster, Nicole Kidman. This lady is one helluva talent. The story is not easy and the needs of the script hard. Yet even as she chips apart emotionally before your very eyes, the performance reads as true as taxes and as visceral as a meadow of fresh air-dried linens.

Hugo Weaving shows as the local sheriff and as always bubbles beneath. Hugo is a huge part of the film’s realism; he’s a nice guy, thrown into really rough situations with varying levels of delicacy needed to keep the balls-in-the-air. Naturally, he’s like a professional juggler.

Enjoy – but do so knowing this is no fluffy summer tickle-your senses movie. Strangerland is high drama that needs time to work in.



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