Australia (2008) starring Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Bryan Brown, Brandon Walters, David Wenham directed by Baz Luhrmann Movie Review

Australia (2008)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Nicole Kidman in Australia (2008)

The Droner

With her husband not doing the job of running the cattle ranch in Australia, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) arrives to not only find the place in disarray but her husband having died. As she tries to bring the ranch in to order she finds that land owner and cattle baron King Carney (Bryan Brown) wants the property and will do anything to get what he wants. Refusing to back down Sarah decides to go ahead with the plan and with the help of the Drover (Hugh Jackman) drive the cattle across country with help of a rag bag bunch of people including a young half-caste boy Nullah (Brandon Walters) who like his aboriginal grandfather has power. But war is looming for this quasi family of Sarah, Drover and Nullah.

As I sat through "Australia" I kept wondering what it would have been like if it had been made 40 years earlier as at times it reminded me of "McLintock!" with a story with features a tempestuous relationship between a rough and ready drover and a lady. But then with the impressive Brandon Walters it also took me further back to a time when Sabu was a hot young star. In fact if "Australia" had been made 40 years earlier it probably would have been a lot more watchable that what Baz Luhrmann has delivered which is excessive in every way possible and someone needed to say less is more to Luhrmann.

I will be really honest with you the excessive nature of "Australia" absolutely killed the movie for me and I don't just mean the length which to be honest is too long. Nope I am on about the over the top characters who flick from drama to caricature in a blink of the eye. I am also on about the stereotypes which are tossed at us from the sage like Aborigine to Drover being a rugged outdoor type who likes to wind people up. Then there is Luhrmann's love of visual flourishes which just add to that general sense of excessive but also make the movie conflicted because over the top moments of humour + in your face visual styling combined with a story which a dramatic underbelly is not a mix which works.

What this all boils down to is that "Australia" simply failed to do it for me and could be used as a lesson in film school to remind young movie makers that sometimes less is more. I am sure there is a good movie in "Australia" but one which needed to be tamed and concentrated upon not embellished with an over the top style.