(2008) ★★

Channel: Saturday 24 October, 5.45pm

After inheriting a cattle station, English aristocrat Nicole Kidman  takes the scenic route to Faraway Downs, hooking up with Aboriginal  boy Brandon Walters and manly drover Hugh Jackman along the way. The  written prologue makes Australia’s Northern Territries in 1939 sound  like feudal China. But Baz Luhrmann’s view of his homeland and its  relationship with the Aborigine was always going to be an extravagant  and personal affair.

And the most costly Australian movie ever made  turns out to be Luhrmann’s tribute to two of Hollywood’s most enduring  classics. Luhrmann’s reckless conceit is to filter his 1939 story  through the two biggest hits of 1939: Australia is Gone With the Wind  wafted in the direction of The Wizard of Oz. It’s an epic romantic  fantasy told through the eyes of the boy.

That’s why he’s the narrator  – it’s all a Dreaming, Aboriginal-style. If you can tune in to that,  then Australia doesn’t seem quite so hokey, even though the corny plot  is like some confounded combination of the 90s hit Far and Away (so  far away, Nicole was still Mrs Tom Cruise), and the old Cary Grant  wartime adventure Father Goose. It’s not boring, you have to give it  that.

Just don’t expect any of the mystery and imagination of Picnic  at Hanging Rock or Walkabout. Australia’s big happy ending comes after  85 minutes. Which is a shame, because there’s still more than an hour  for things to turn sad. What’s really surprising, in a film that  primps and preens and shouts out loud, is that the iconic title  doesn’t carry a Moulin Rouge! exclamation.

Certificate: 12

Duration: 165min

IMDB – Australia

TMDB – Australia

Rotten Tomatoes – Australia

Other Showings Date & Time
Film4 Friday, 30 October at 5:45PM