Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Australia”

(20th-Century Fox. 2 hours, 45 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language. Directed by Baz Luhrmann.) Nicole Kidman (Lady Sarah Ashley), Hugh Jackman (The Drover), David Wenham (Neil Fletcher), Bryan Brown (King Carney), Jack Thompson (Kipling Flynn), Brandon Walters (Nullah). Music by David Hirschfelder.

Enjoyable reimagining of the 1950s romance/adventure epic. Back then, Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr would have played the parts taken here by Jackman and Kidman. If you’re familiar with those movies of old (as you know I am), you’ll also remember that they were usually watchable (because of the stars), and almost always predictable, but that’s part of what you liked about them. However, they were rarely close to 3 hours. Australia would play better if it were some 15-20 minutes shorter. As to the leads? With Kidman’s unusual looks (that tall, thin, white countenance), she would fit right in as one of the Cullens in Twilight. Here she’s an English aristocrat who travels to the Australian outback to check on her husband’s cattle station. Finding him murdered, and the property close to being lost, she joins forces with a rough-hewn local (Jackman) as they try to save her land, a herd of cattle, and a little Aborigine boy (Walters, good) while the country stands at the brink of World War II. Jackman’s as red-blooded as Kidman is pale; he replaced Russell Crowe, the original Drover (cattle driver), and thankfully so. His is a part which is mostly physical, and the handsome, strapping Jackman (People magazine just named him the Sexiest Man Alive!) is better suited to evoke Clark Gable than Crowe. Director Luhrmann tosses a lot into this cinematic stew (romance, adventure, war, racism, class issues). He would have been better off paring it down by a couple of themes, but still, you could do much worse than spending some time this holiday season with beautiful scenery and attractive leads.

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