Australia

Where has Baz Luhrmann been since Moo Roo in 2001? If he’s been working on Australia all that time, then I’m sorely disappointed at his time management skills.

Haughty aristocratic woman goes to rough, barren landscape and comes to love a noble, but uncultured man’s man with variable facial hair and a nice hat. They acquire a small Aboriginal boy as their adopted son and overcome trials and evil cattle barons. Kipling Flynn of harmonica fame reminded me very, very strongly of the sozzled former WWI pilot in the Mummy. As plots go, then, it’s not the most original and you can predict with some confidence what the outcome will be. Having said that, Nicole Kidman manages just about to pull off a believable transition from said lordly Ladyship to human being and what’s not to like about Hugh Jackman? It must also be admitted that in parts the film is rather funny. I cite the underwear fight and the kangaroo as two fine examples. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch out for those.

The landscapes are beautiful, as one might expect. BL does a good job as Australia’s official PR guy. Having said that, I did think that semi-primitive Darwin was the most impressive of the backdrops in the same sort of way that Paris became part of the action in Moo Roo.

Re the Aborigines, there’s something of a political agenda going on here. Nullah, a half-Aborigine boy, whose mother works on the cattle station owned by NK’s husband at the beginning of the film, narrates the action (slightly irritating after a while). His greatest fear is that he’ll be taken away to a mission island by the Catholic church and his greatest wish is to be accepted by one community or another (the ‘white fellas’ or the ‘black fellas’). He’s constantly watched over by his magic-singing grandfather, who seems to enjoy building bonfires on incredibly steep hills and has a very good aim. Now, given that the Australian government only issued an official apology to those people of

Aboriginal origin who were affected by theĀ  missions in 2008, this could be hot stuff. Having said that, it doesn’t weigh down the film nearly as much as one might expect from reading the opening over-screen paragraphs. In fact, in the end, Nullah’s eventual capture by the dastardly priests seems merely a plot device to allow the family to reunite for the finish.

An enjoyable film, but not a particularly memorable one.

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