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Lantana (2001)

  Directed by: Ray Lawrence
Written by: Andrew Bovell
Starring: Kerry Armstrong, Barbara Hershey, Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush
Links: Lantana on the IMDb, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Lantana (2001) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of Crash (2004) and mino's review of Japanese Story (2003).

"A rare Aussie treat" - a review by mino

By rights, Lantana is not the sort of movie that the Australian movie industry should be able to do well. Traditionally, successful Aussie fare is limited to light comedies like Crackerjack (2002), or meaning-laden message-pieces like Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). Clever ‘character drama’ isn't normally something that we can ever quite get right, and that just serves to make Lantana a very enjoyable treat indeed.

Lantana is a little bit thriller, a little bit relationship saga, and a little bit plain old-fashioned detective story — and it succeeds admirably at all three. The story largely revolves around cynical detective Leon Zat (the always-good-value Anthony LaPaglia), who is slowly coming to terms with the fact that his marriage is beginning to disintegrate. Called upon to investigate the disappearance of a leading psychiatrist (Barbara Hershey), Zat finds himself in a very interesting position — not least because his wife is one of the psychiatrist's patients.

It's hard to explain the plot any further, but in a way, that's about all there is to know. Lantana is not, by any stretch of the imagination, driven by the main plot. In fact, the murder is almost incidental to everything else that goes on, merely the impetus for a fascinating study of relationships — how they work, and, just as importantly, how they don't.

Lantana is far from a gripping edge-of-the-seat thriller, so don't get the wrong idea. It's a lazy film, which takes things slowly and doesn't feel the need to rush. It's not the plot or the pace, or the direction (thought it is a lovely-looking film) which makes it, though: it's the wonderful characters.

The acting in Lantana is superb, better than I can remember seeing in an Australian movie in a long time. Geoffrey Rush puts in a great turn even for him (which is really saying something), LaPaglia drills it, and even the normally profoundly annoying Kerry Armstrong is perfect as his just-holding-it-together wife. The actors, though, can't take all the glory: they need to give due credit to Andrew Bovell for a truly outstanding script. Not only is everything tight as a drum — barely a line is wasted — but each and every character is absolutely fascinating. Lantana must have been an actor's dream, as each one is given a character almost perfectly crafted to fit them, it seems, and none of them set a foot wrong.

Australian cinema, while patchy, produces the occasional gem. Lantana is most definitely one of them.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 30 Mar 2004

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Reader comments

  1. When I owned about 300 DVDs, the only Australian films I had were MAD MAX and MAD MAX II. I then hired LANTANA one night, not expecting much despite the avalanche of AFI awards it received, and I was pleasantly suprised and thrilled. And so LANTANA became the third Aussie film to enter my collection.

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from Rod Williams (http://www.cosmos.net.au/~hologram/) on Thu 08 Apr 2004 14:38 #

  2. After reading the play 'Speaking in Tongues', this movie really lost its appeal. Simply the play delivers what this film attempts to much more effectively.

    Rating given: 1

    A comment from Metroid on Wed 09 Mar 2005 15:04 #

  3. I loved the crickets. V. life like.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Jor on Mon 13 Mar 2006 09:45 #

  4. im australian and the film didnt appeal to me, probably because im 15 but i thout it was boring and was confusing, it was a bit all over the place...good ideas in it though.

    Rating given: 3

    A comment from - on Wed 05 Apr 2006 11:54 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 5.25 (4 ratings)

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