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.

5
A landmark Australian film.

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.

the best thing I've seen in cinema in recent memory

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 phoney 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.

 

Watch 'Lantana'

Monday 27 July, 9:50pm on SBS World Movies
Wednesday 29 July, 2:05am on SBS World Movies

Now streaming at SBS On Demand

M
Australia, 2001
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Language: English
Director: Ray Lawrence
Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Armstrong, Vince Colosimo, Barbara Hershey, Glenn Robbins, Geoffrey Rush
What's it about?
A psychiatrist (Hershey) fears her husband (Rush) to be the married man with whom one of her male clients is having an affair. Meanwhile, a female client (Armstrong) suspects her husband (LaPaglia), 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.

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