Outback Vanishing

Strangerland

strangerland_ver2

Director: Kim Farrant

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Maddison Brown, Nicholas Hamilton, Sean Keenan

Spoiler Alert valid until date of Commercial Release

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) gives another provocative performance in her home country of Australia in the sexually charged mystery thriller, Strangerland as she plays Catherine Parker mother of two children, who one night mysteriously vanish into the Outback. Directed by Kim Farrant and co-starring Joseph Fiennes (Hercules, Elizabeth) as her husband, the straight laced, brutal tempered pharmacist Matthew Parker and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix; Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as the small town Detective David Rae who eventually gets to the heart of the mystery.

With beautiful cinematography by P. J. Dillon who captures the isolation and vastness of the Australian outback on the edge of the small town of Nathgari where the Parkers reside. As the days of the Parker’s children’s disappearance increase, town rumours run riot along with all sorts of sexual innuendo involving sexual abuse and psychological meltdown. The children Tommy and the precocious Lily are played by Nicholas Hamilton and Maddison Brown respectively.

Coupled with the blistering heat, the Parkers relationship as husband and wife, each with their own secrets is carefully dissected in a fascinating if at times slightly drawn out character study of the disintegration of a marriage.

Naturally Nicole Kidman is superb as the young and sexually frustrated mother who eventually blames herself for her children’s inexplicable disappearance yet while trying to remain actively involved in the investigation, which includes a vast manhunt in the blistering Australian manhunt.

Joseph Fiennes is equally good as the pent-up husband although he is not given as much scope as his co-star but still makes the most of his role. Fiennes is the younger brother of Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes and although he has not had as a prolific film career as Ralph, it’s wonderful to see Joseph Fiennes take on more gritty film roles after his initial success in Shakespeare in Love.

Although Strangerland could have been edited, it’s still a gripping family drama about parents dealing with loss and a sense of their own failure and is worth watching for lovers of suspense filled Australian drama in a similar vein to the brilliant Animal Kingdom.

After its debut at the Sundance Film Festival Sundance, Strangerland had its South African premiere at the 36th Durban International Film Festival DIFF. This film is another opportunity to see the immensely talented Nicole Kidman continue in her daring streak of taking on more sexually explicit film roles such as those in The Paperboy and Stoker.

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