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Strangerland Review


Listen to our interview with Strangerland writer Michael Kinirons here.

An Irish/Australian co-production, Strangerland uses the breathtaking vistas of the Australian outback (brought to life beautifully by cinematographer P.J. Dillon) as the backdrop for the tale of the Parker family, who have had to relocate to a remote desert town because of 15 year old daughter Lily’s (Madison Brown) illicit relationship with a teacher. Mother Katherine (Nicole Kidman), father Matthew (Joseph Fiennes), and even her brother Tom (Nicholas Hamilton) have grown to resent Lily, and each other, for leaving their home, especially as she hasn’t changed her sexually promiscuous ways. When both Lily and Tom go missing on the eve of a massive dust storm, a search begins, bringing in Hugo Weaving’s pessimistic detective David Rae, which pushes Katherine and Matthew’s already strained relationship to breaking point.

The central performances of Kidman, Fiennes, and Weaving are the heart and soul of Strangerland, with Kidman commanding every scene she’s in as the increasingly distraught Katherine as we watch her sanity wash away every minute her children are missing. It is an incredibly haunting performance, let down slightly by the movies soapy plotting. Fiennes brings a barely controlled rage to the role of Matthew that he uses to great effect. He starts the movie as the de facto villain, but as the story marches on, he changes before our eyes and you will be left with a different opinion as the credits roll. Weaving is absolutely fantastic, as per usual, as Rae, but you get the feeling that the character is superfluous to proceedings, as he doesn’t really add anything to the story that another character couldn’t do. This is evidenced by the fact that he is pushed aside and never seen again as the end beckons. It is a shame, because he becomes one of the movie’s best characters.

Director Kim Farrant proves she can handle suspense well, as we’re drip fed details and revelations sparingly, while at the same leaving us come with our own theories as to what is going on. What hurts Strangerland is that there isn’t enough of a narrative to stretch across the nearly two hour runtime. There is a strong story here, but some plot points seem like a bit of stretch, or just don’t go anywhere. They slow the movie down, sometimes sending the plot running in a circle by repeating the same plot beat twice.

Marred by by some story flaws, Strangerland is still a beautifully shot, supremely acted, and captivating drama.


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The Movie Bit: Strangerland Review
Strangerland Review
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