Directed by Kim Farrant
Starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Lisa Flanagan and Megan Alston
Newly arrived to a remote desert town, Catherine and Matthew are tormented by a suspicion when their two teenage children mysteriously vanish.
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★★★★★ review by Derek Diercksmeier on Letterboxd
Kim Farrant's Strangerland is one of my favorite films of the year. Reviews have been widely dismissive and that's a shame. This film is incredible. Tense and chilling, grand and intimate, haunting and surreal. Nicole Kidman is utterly magnificent. Hugo Weaving is stellar. Joseph Fiennes is ferocious. The cinematography on display is nothing short of astounding. My personal opinion is that Australian cinema is the best in the world and Strangerland is a prime example.
★★★½ review by zuhair vazir on Letterboxd
Nicole Kidman knocks us out with a heart-pounding performance and chews it all up despite solid acting by a small town Agent Smith and a perfectly cast Joseph Fiennes as the humiliated father.
Two children go missing and the volunteer manhunt and the psychological play begins. 'Strangerland' is a film that is calm and puzzle like. With revelations upon past escapades being unveiled, the viewer gets pulled in, only to be shown out politely; for you see director Kim Farrant is brave and straightforward in her bidding for an idealistic approach towards the all too terrifying subject.
With a score that slices the flesh with every note, notes that are structured to build an atmosphere of fear. Coupled with the involuted direction the film fills the viewer with dark emotions and a full blown movie dust-storm.
The themes elaborated upon in the film are not easy to get acquainted with, even though the debilitating fear of losing a child is all very real and the film gets the chilling scenario across rather strangely, for lack of a better strain, resulting in a powerful yet difficult (effective) experience.
★★★★½ review by PTA on Letterboxd
Great performances from all the cast especially Kidman in one of her best in her career. I'm glad that I ignored most of the critics reviews because this is a really great film. Many similarities to the amazing classic film Picnic at Hanging Rock.
★★★½ review by Ash Boomstick on Letterboxd
Gritty Australian thriller with that bloke from the Matrix. Holds your attention and Kidman is as intense as ever. Made me watch the original Mad Max to fulfill my gritty australian wants.
★★★½ review by Richard Webber on Letterboxd
I'm going to give Strangerland some love, because there's a disappointing paucity of it here on Letterboxd, and out there in lesser filmwatcher land. How jaded we can be to the qualities and the efforts of filmmakers, how dismissive to the artform in its minor moments. Are we now so surrounded by product from the wider world, within such easy reach of films that feed our specific genre needs or take the highest honours of originality that we can't reward the imperfect attempt?
I know that Strangerland starts on a wrought emotional footing and becomes progressively overwrought. I know it seems somewhat unsatisfyingly derivative in its allusions to the mystical spirit of 'country' (Peter Weir is a tough comparison). I know it colours its gender portraits with a heavy hand. And I know it paints the popularly essayed dysfunctional family unit into a well worn corner. On the other hand, I know that it has significant and entertaining qualities.
Nicole Kidman gives another of her brave, emotionally raw performances. She is terrific as Catherine, a mother torn between her own hardly tamed, easily confused sexuality and base maternal instinct. That she managed to make me look past her facial and mammarian surgical overhauls was a credit to the truth of her dramatic unravelling. It's good to see Joseph Fiennes back as well, his masculinity saddled by an impotence borne of expectation and frustration, finding only violent relief. Hugo Weaving gives his usual charismatic portrayal as a decently imperfect man. He seems to be more willing as his career extends to bury the self conscious artifice in his craft, and just gets better with age. The screenplay by Michael Kinirons and and Fiona Seres is tough, tight and uncompromisingly tooled.
Kim Farrant has made a visually enticing film, and not stinted on the aural accompaniment. There's a rich conviction to the way both elements present the majestic beauty, danger and harsh permanence of the outback setting. It's a well trodden path in the cinema, from Nic Roeg's Walkabout, through Rolf De Heer's The Tracker, Greg Mclean's Wolf Creek, and up to recent works such as Ivan Sen's Mystery Road and John Curran's Tracks. I think complaints of unoriginality are a little dismissive.
Farrant wants to draw thematic parallels between the inviolate spirit of the natural world and unfettered human desire as represented by the unbridleable lust of Maddison Brown's 15 year old Lily. As such, Strangerland is a big, gutsy effort for a first time filmmaker, it's just that she throws too much of everything at it where some restraint, some loosening of the suffocating trauma, and dare I say a touch of humour would have served the film and its tortured characters well. I'll be looking out keenly for her next film, fingers crossed she gets to make it.
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