I finally got around to seeing Baz Lurhmann’s Australia. I cannot remember ever having seen a film so offensively bad.
It is three hours of unmitigated drivel.
My mother-in-law said about half way through ‘This thing just goes on and on. It must be six hours already!’
My brother-in-law Bruce, at whose insistence we were watching it, replied ‘It’s almost over, just another half hour.’
‘Half an hour!’ shouted Bonnie, ‘I can’t sit here another minute!
We stopped for twenty minutes to let everyone catch their breath. I grabbed a very large scotch, and kept the bottle.
The movie started again. OK. I was pretty confident I could get through the next half hour without slashing my wrists.
An hour and a half later it finally dribbled to an end.
By this time Bonnie was comatose, and even Kathy, who had wanted to see it, was looking less than gruntled.
Australia is an abject collection of every movie cliche imaginable.
The overall effect is like Flying High or Scary Movie – ‘Oh, that’s from How The West Was Won’ or ‘That’s from Sixth Sense.’
But because Australia takes itself so seriously – and that is a key difference from Lurhmann’s earlier films – it doesn’t offer even the minimal amusement afforded by those other rip-off movies.
Australia is also a collection of every offensive half truth about about Australia’s history, and every offensive libel about official attitudes and policies relating to Australia’s indigenous people.
Some of the scenery is interesting, but apart from that, it is difficult to think of anything good about the movie at all.
Nicole Kidman is a competent if not brilliant actress (to be fair, she was brilliant in The Hours, a substantially less depressing film than Australia), and Hugh Jackman makes a good Wolverine or Peter Allen.
But in Australia, the limit of their expressive power is Jackman stalking about looking manly, while Kidman struts about looking concerned.
The boy who plays Nullah (Brandon Walters) is a nice looking kid, but he has only three expressions: happy, sad, and confused.
He looked confused quite frequently. He wasn’t the only one.
I am sure I looked confused almost as often as I looked bored or annoyed, depending on whether what was on screen at the time was another gaping hole in the plot, another cattle stampede to the edge of the cliff cliche, or another malicious misrepresentation of Australia’s history.
Baz Lurhmann has produced three entertaining and original movies. How did he go so far wrong with this?