Details: (MA15+), 121 mins, Australia, English
Synopsis: A psychiatrist fears her husband to be the married man with whom one of her male clients is having an affair. Meanwhile, a female client suspects her husband, a detective, is also being unfaithful. When the psychiatrist goes missing, the detective is put on the case and soon uncovers a tangled web of intrigue and deceit.
Lantana has got everything that a good film should have.
Lantana has got everything that a good film should have: a striking visual sense, richly involving characters, fine performances, a strong narrative drive and a sturdy thematic core. Intelligent and consistently moving, Lantana is a great Australian film.
The film casts its net wide, and covers the movements of a large, interlinked group of characters: detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia), his mistress (a saucy, lightning-in-a-bottle turn from Rachael Blake) and her neighbours (Vince Colosimo and Daniela Farinacci at their best), his troubled wife (the sultry and sympathetic Kerry Armstrong), her psychiatrist (a brittle, fraying Barbara Hershey), the shrink’s reserved, emotionally shut down husband (Geoffrey Rush, slicing the ham very thin for a change) and one of her patients (a slightly menacing Peter Phelps). They constantly cut across each other in a darkly consuming web of romance, love, betrayal, infidelity, suspicion and ultimately death.
Director Ray Lawrence hadn’t made a film since his 1986 classic Bliss, but he hasn’t lost his touch. Filling the screen with elegant, dark hued imagery, Lawrence keeps a tight rein on his large cast of characters, never letting the film get too confusing or out of hand. Andrew Bovell’s script is a compelling and literate jigsaw of complex emotion, taking the audience through some of the most honest and recognisable aspects of human nature. It’s a strong, powerful tour, and the fine cast all rise to the challenge, forgoing star trips in favour of fitting tightly into a well-oiled ensemble. The performances, right down to the smallest roles (Leah Purcell, Russell Dykstra and Glenn Robbins are all excellent in supporting roles), are richly nuanced and hit all the high notes in the script.
Lantana is a great film: complex, sophisticated, entertaining and always accessible. The fact that it ruminates so powerfully on emotions familiar to all of us makes it an across-the-board winner.
Lantana is quite a few things in film. It`s a mystery, a thriller, but more than anything else it`s about the human dimension...what we want in life, trust in relationships is so difficult to attain and yet so easy. Leon, Anthony LaPaglia, is a police detective who`s cheating on his wife, Sonja, Kerry Armstrong, with Jane, Rachel Blake. Jane who`s separated from her husband, Glenn Robbins, lives next door to Paula, Daniela Farinacci, and Nik, Vince Colosimo, a happily married couple who will become entwined in the events of the film. Sonja who senses her husband`s alienation is seeing a psychiatrist Valerie, Barbara Hershey who`s married to an academic, Geoffrey Rush. Their relationship is marred by grief about the death of their daughter. But the film opens with the dead body of a woman in the midst of a lantana scrub and it`s Leon`s investigation of this event that connects everyone, including another of Valerie`s patients, played by Peter Phelps...Lantana is just about the best thing I`ve seen in cinema in recent memory. It`s been directed by Ray Lawrence who sadly hasn`t made a film since Bliss in 1985. This adaptation by Andrew Bovell of his stage play Speaking in Tongues is a film about connection and the lack of it and how much we desire it. It`s a terrific screenplay. Lawrence, working with natural light, grounds his characters in very real locations, there`s not a lot that`s phony about this film and that includes every single performance. I want cinema to challenge me, to move me, and to make me think about what`s important. Lantana does all that splendidly. It`s a landmark Australian film, it`s a landmark film regardless of country of origin.
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