June 2, 2015
STRANGERLAND is an upcoming arthouse Australian thriller seeing Nicole Kidman going back to her roots and what she is best at, raw, powerful art-house performances that push the boundaries. In this she teams up with Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes in an incredibly powerful debut feature film from director, Kim Farrant. STRANGERLAND was official selection for Sundance, will be screening at the Sydney Film Festival and has a one week season ONLY from next Thursday 11th to 17th June, in Australia, at Palace Cinemas (oodly excluding Sydney, but we get it at SFF). The good news is that thanks to the fine folks at TM Publicity and Transmission Films I have 10x double passes to give away. Make sure you can get to a Palace Cinema (excluding Sydney) between the 11th and 17th and enter away. I will be sending tickets out on the 9th so enter quickly. All the best………………JK.
New to the remote Australian desert town of Nathgari, the Parker family is thrown into crisis when Catherine (Nicole Kidman) and Matthew (Joseph Fiennes) discover that their two teenage kids, Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton) and Lily (Maddison Brown), have mysteriously disappeared just before a massive dust storm hits the town. With Nathgari now eerily smothered in red dust and darkness, the locals join the search led by local cop David Rae (Hugo Weaving). With temperatures rising, and the chances of survival plummeting with each passing day, Catherine and Matthew find themselves pushed to the brink as they struggle to survive the uncertainty of their children’s fate.
The film is spectacular, hands down I do believe this will be my favourite Australian movie of 2015 and comes across as this year’s THE ROVER. It is easily one of Kidman’s best performances from an incredible career and she eats the screen in this one. Also seeing her and Weaving act together is like seeing Blanchett and Rush, it is a perfect fit and two actors who not only know each other so well but are so comfortable acting together it is almost natural.
Dealing with grief is a terrible thing to go through, dealing with that grief with the knowledge that your children may or may not be dead and you don’t know where they are, and you can’t do anything is enough to drive anyone insane. In a small town in the middle of the desert when you know there is a survival clock is beyond horrendous. I don’t want to imagine.
For the Parkers, it is incredibly difficult, they moved to Nathgari for the sole purpose of getting away from attention. Attention brought about by their daughter, and I have no shame in saying it, a truly slutty, horny teenager who is bored as hell in this small town and has a beautiful body and longs for attention. But Lily is her mother’s daughter, and Catherine, is the older version of Lily. Catherine needs attention, she is lonely, her husband has withdrawn away from her and to be honest, they were never right for each other. She was a party girl, he was a nerd, she was completely extroverted, him introverted and pompous. In Nathgari she is bored, and depressed, and she lacks little in the way of feelings and she needs and longs for sex to fill a desire and to allow her to feel something. Lily is basically the same but going through her late teen years and also believing she is invincible and knows more than her parents. Lily is infuriating, I would allow the slapping of children in her case. Tommy is younger and half mother / half father, I found Tommy to be the most grounded and least affected by their family situation and someone adapting better but slower, but he also has his own issue and night-wanders through the town.
The film presents as a murder/ disappearance mystery/ psychological thriller, in a small town there can only be a few suspects and the entire town is affected by this tragedy. The film is near on perfect for me. As I said earlier Kidman’s performance is just sublime, she gets bloody raw in this movie and goes for it, she appears more comfortable away form the Hollywood studios. Weaving is always amazing, I just love the guy, and his small town cop, thoroughly enjoyable. I did not like Fiennes or his character and am uncertain if this is due to his bad casting or because it was so good I just loathed the character, the chemistry between him and Kidman was hideous, but at this stage of their marriage it should be. I never thought they belonged together. Brown was fine as slutty Lily and Hamilton was superb as Tommy, I loved his character and his lack of connection later in the movie was strong, the compassion and empathy I had for this kid was more powerful than my thoughts for the rest of the family, Lily was a stupid brat, couldn’t care less, she was in no way innocent, but Tommy, pure innocence that got hurt, unfair in every way. Expect to see more of him soon, currently filming CAPTAIN FANTASTIC with Viggo!! The one thing that keeps going over and over in my mind, did he tell the truth or did he save his mum’s sanity?
The film captures small town Australian desert/ country life perfectly, the dust storm was a bonus and the isolation was uncomfortable. Farrant’s direction was a triumph and P.J. Dillon’s cinematography is a marvel that is matched by the fine wine of Keefus Ciancia’s music that smothers the movie in long drawn out tension oozing in melancholy and desperation.
My gripes are two; firstly, already mentioned is my indecision of Fiennes, but this is not his movie, it is Kidman’s, and she bloody owns it. But lastly, the ending with Kidman, I got her going out to nature to face the demon, to be where her kids could be but the entry back into town was not what I was expecting, it was mostly unnecessary and felt like it was meant to be this epic insanity from fucking nature cinematic orgasm but it wasn’t and while sad for the character I felt the film let down by this. I know Kidman gave it (literally) her all for this scene and kudos to her for doing it but it lacked the gravitas I believed it desired.
Regardless of the flaws the film has way more merits, it plays like a long strummed piano wire and the tension is wonderful.
With special thanks to Transmission Films to win one of the 10X double passes to STRANGERLAND you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:
What is your favourite Nicole Kidman movie and why? For me I have to go with DEAD CALM – still one of my all time favourite movies.
The film is ONLY screening at PALACE CINEMAS NATIONALLY (excluding Sydney) from June 11-17th so please ensure you can attend one of these cinemas prior to entering.
If you do not have social media then get with the times – you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).
Prizes will no longer be awarded to first in first served. It will now be a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.
The prizes will be mailed on the 9th June so move quick on this one! Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents