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Movie Review: Lantana

Story: Remember the underlying premise in Six Degrees of Separation? Just combine that with a bit of murder mystery, infidelity and interesting characters and you get Lantana. This is a terrific Australian film and I do hope you will be able to find it in your neighborhood. From the opening sequence we are drawn into the mysterious tangled lives of eight characters who somehow (we learn) are connected. Lantana is an Australian bush, a weed, that infests the suburbs, sprouts beautiful flowers but is a tangled mess underneath its surface. Director Ray Lawrence works with writer Andrew Bovell (who adapted his play, Speaking in Tongues, which is now off-Broadway, to the screen) to bring us a well crafted intelligent, immensely interesting film. It is about loneliness, marriage, betrayal, human complexity, human frailty and happenstance.

Acting: Anthony LaPaglia (everyone probably thinks he is an American since he has been in so many American films but he is an Australian) was terrific as the conflicted husband/lover/cop. Geoffrey Rush (Shine) was understated and elegant. All of the other characters were just fine as well and then there is Barbara collagen Hershey. I can't imagine why she was in this film, but she was. She looked medicated and she needs to stop her cosmetic surgery addiction. She looked mighty frightening in this film.

Critters: Not a dingo (remember that great line, the dingo stole my baby?)or a kangaroo in sight.

Food: Some breakfast food.

Visual Art: Each home had some visual art that worked well ... from children's refrigerator art to some fine photography.

Blatant Product Placement: Just some posters advertising Sydney.

Soundtrack: Some fun salsa music.

Opening Titles: The opening sequence is critical to the film.

Theater Audience: I was in a theater I rarely go to (actually the roof caved in some years ago, and I am unsually a little nervous about going there). The crowd was very courteous about seating themselves so they were not plopping down right in front of someone else. We only had to change our seats twice.

Quirky Meter: 2

Predictability Level: Low

Oscar Worthy: No. But the Aussies loved it a gave it many awards this year.

Nit Picking: Some of the accents were so thick we needed subtitles some of the time (or hearing aids).

Big Screen or Rental: This film will probably not be playing in too many multiplexes so you will probably have to rent it when it comes out on video. Other similar themed alternatives would be the most wonderful Yi-Yi and Short Cuts.

Length: Two Hours