Oztalia: The magnificent and brilliantly artistic Baz Luhrmann is back with a movie that is as grand as the country it is set in. Australia is a sweeping epic that is visually stunning from start to finish.
The movie is set just before WWII and tells the story of Lady Sarah Ashley (the beautiful as ever Nicole Kidman) and her struggle to finish what her husband Maitland Ashley started; bringing a cattle farm in the harsh outback of Australia back to life. The film is told from the point of view of Nullah (played by Brandon Walters) an aborigine whose mother dies while hiding from the police. Sarah takes a maternal interest in the boy and does everything she can to protect him as. As Sarah and the company she has hired struggle to move the cattle to the wharf in order to sell them, she and cattle herder Drover (the talented Hugh Jackman) butt heads over how things should be done. Sarah and Drover are a modern day Rhett and Scarlett and it's clear from the day they first meet that these two are destined to be together.
The main story of the film is not about the fiery relationship between Lady Sarah and Drover but about young Nullah's quest for a home, family and sense of belonging. Nullah becomes a part of Sarah and Drover's family but once the war begins, he is wrenched away from the two and put with all of the other half-casts on Mission Island.
Like Scarlett in Gone With The Wind, Sarah undergoes a major transformation as she discovers within her a courage and strength she did not realize she had. Drover, like Nullah, realizes that he is longing for a family after closing himself off from the pain and disappointment of love. I have to say that this is arguably the best role I've seen Jackman in and the young boy who plays Nullah is incredibly precocious.
The film is a shoo-in for some major Academy Award nominations unless voters are put off by the length. At 2hours and 45 minutes, the film could have been about 20 minutes shorter. Having said that, however, the landscapes, scenery and costumes are amazing and Luhrmann does know how to keep the story moving swiftly.
If you are a fan of Kidman, Jackman or Luhrmann you'll enjoy this movie. If you are a fan of stunning cinematography, you'll enjoy it even more.
Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 3.5
Academy Award nominations predictions:
Best Costume Design
Best Actor: Hugh Jackman