The Ponder Room
June 12, 2015
Imagine being a director and securing Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes for your first full length movie, nervous? That was the challenged faced by Australian director Kim Farrant. The result was the moody and thought provoking Strangerland. Thanks to Luna Cinema this week a small audience got to hear Farrant talk openly about her experience, that post will be up shortly, but first a review of the movie which is on a limited one week release.
Strangerland is the story of teenage daughter Lily (Maddison Brown) exploring her sexuality and the consequences this has for not only her immediate family but a whole town. The family headed by Matthew Parker (Joseph Fiennes) and Catherine (Nicole Kidman), have moved to a remote Australian desert town, Nathgari, after their daughters adventures with her teacher in their previous home.
One night when younger brother Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton) goes on one of his midnight walks Lily follows. Matthew sees them leave but does nothing, knowing that Tommy always makes it home. But in the morning the Parkers realise that the children didn’t come home, and when a dust storm takes on apocalyptic proportions the chances of their return looks slim.
Country cop David Rae (Hugo Weaving) is called on to help the family, particularly Catherine who receives little comfort from her distant dentist husband. Townsfolk scour the wilderness while the heat escalates. When two local boys the uber cool Steve (Sean Keenan) and the mentally scared Burtie (Meyne Hamilton) are implicated Rae walks the fine line between what to report and what to bury.
Set in hot outback Australian the imagery is beautiful, think Picnic at Hanging Rock, which Farrant explained was one of her influences.
Strangerland is a slow burn. It explores a mothers anguish, our perceptions of people with diminished mental capabilities, and what happens when secrets are kept. It’s always good to watch Weaving at work and this was no exception. Kidman appears suitably vulnerable as a women supressing her own demons. The young cast of Maddison Brown, Meyne Wyatt, Sean Keenan and Nicholas Hamilton suggests that the future of Australian film is in good hands.
As I watched on I pondered …
Strangerland is on a short run, with an exclusive one week season at Luna.
Stay tuned for the Question and Answer session with Farrant.