Strangerland (2015)

Strangerland (2015)

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Strangerland - (2015) A family finds their dull life in a rural outback town rocked after their two teenage children disappear into the desert, sparking disturbing rumors of their past.
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  1. danextpele

    There are some actors and actresses that possess the chops necessary in order to save that sinking ship – whether it be a complete stinker or a film that just happens to miss the mark, you can usually count on that star power to hold you over until the credits roll…yep, NOT the case with Nicole Kidman in Strangerland.

    Directed by Kim Farrant, the film centers on the married couple (Kidman and Fiennes) of Catherine and Matthew Parker, whose latest relocation to one of the deepest stretches of the Australian Outback with their children, Lily (Maddison Brown) and Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton), has hit quite the snag. After a short time adjusting to their newest digs, Catherine and Matthew awake one morning to find that not one, but both of their children have flown the coop, with not a clue in sight as to their whereabouts. Enter our local detective (Weaving) who is given the case, and as the film progresses, we learn some interesting nuggets of info about our happy family (quite a bit of sarcasm in that one), and their reasons for the abrupt nomadic address change they’ve just undertaken. Now anyone can check out the structure of this film and ascertain that both the children are malcontents, strictly acting out in order to obtain a prescribed response from Mom and Dad, and you know what? It worked.

    Seems fitting that a colossal dust storm is the backdrop for the kids’ disappearance, because there is a rather larger cloud over Matthew and Catherine’s marriage, and once the cemented reality of their kids’ vanishing sets in, we truly see the cracks in their own foundation begin to re-emerge, and the only issue I had with that is, I simply didn’t care. Kidman offers up a strong performance as Catherine, bringing herself to the edge in more than one scene, and giving the illusion that a piece of her soul is lost alongside her spawn, but somehow Fiennes looked seriously out of place as the father. Given the possibility that his role was written to specifically display this kind of performance, I can go with it, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it – kind of like dragging your child to the doctor’s office – I’ll go through the torture, but I’m going to voice my displeasure every freaking step of the way.

    Hugo Weaving, as the stoic investigator, is simply that – stagnant, sedentary, and ultimately mournful – his work in this film is for the lack of a better word, “threadbare.” I can give a film a look and while I’ll literally scrape the meat off of the bones when it comes to performances, I can definitely get lost in a movie’s scenery, and this is where Strangerland earns my respect, with its sweeping cinematography and enveloping visuals, the look and gloomy feel of the situation weighs very heavily on the overall product, however it gets pulled down way too far in order to take any pleasure in it. In essence, we’ve got a moody, wrought psychological presentation about a married couple whose issues with each other have subsequently led to the departure of their own offspring, and the attempts to not only locate the children, but to reconnect the splintered remnants of a union long gone awry. Did I get everything tucked into one neat little package? Then why the hell did I get dragged so far out into the freakin Outback to figure it all out?

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