By Shannon Penrod
The other night I dreamt I was having lunch with Oprah and some of her friends and family. For me this isn’t all that unusual, two nights ago I dreamt that I borrowed Ellen DeGeneres’ nanny, and as far as I know she and Portia have no children, so go figure! What was interesting in the dream with Oprah is that I was passionately telling her and everyone that would listen that they needed to rent and watch the movie Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
Since the dream, renting the movie keeps coming up in conversation with friends and family as well as total strangers in the check out line. Apparently I am a lot more passionate on the subject than anyone, including me, even knew. (Look, when you dream about telling Oprah something, you’re pretty invested in it)
So, here’s the deal, I think EVERYONE needs to rent this movie and make the time to watch it. I know, the critics panned it. That’s one of the reasons why you need to see it and make up your own mind. They were wrong. This isn’t just a good movie, it’s a great movie. It is the kind of movie that you see and never forget. I don’t want to overstate anything, but it’s the kind of movie that has the power to change your life.
And before I wax really poetic about it you need to know that I am neither a Nicole Kidman nor a Baz Luhrmann fan. She’s okay, but she’s really thin and she gets on my nerves and while I love Luhrmann’s visual sense of things, I usually feel like it takes precedence over the telling of the story. This is not the case in Australia! First and foremost this is some great story telling, with amazing visuals that serve the story while taking your breath away. Kidman is fabulous, yes, I said it, and I meant it. And honestly I could look at Hugh Jackman all day!
I had an expectation when I sat down in the movie theatre. I had heard the word epic – I assumed it was in reference to visuals, I was wrong. This film is EPIC, in the tradition of old style film making. The story is huge, the setting is huge, and the stakes are huge. Nothing is packaged in a nice little 90 minute template. The film takes you on a journey that is surprising in its scope. I had an expectation that I was going to see a film that was largely a love story between a man and a woman. That was delivered beautifully. What I didn’t expect were the deeper themes of what it truly means to be a mother, what it means to live by your ideals in a world that cannot support them, what it means to humble yourself to trust in something greater than yourself by letting your children go.
I don’t want to spoil anything but what I can tell you is that I left the theatre someone different than I walked in. In my opinion that is what a great film can and should do. There were at least two moments in the movie that I have not been able to stop thinking about. Moments that have spurred me to have more personal courage, to get off my comfortable polyester clad ass and stand up for what I believe; moments that have inspired me to be a better person. And it was a ripping good yarn!
Don’t listen to the critics, they’re a cynical bunch of movie dorks who have been in dark rooms with stale popcorn for too long. Australia is worth seeing. It is important to let Hollywood and the world wide film making industry know that these kinds of movies have their place. If you listen to the critics you will not only miss out on a great film you will send a message that will ensure these types of films are never made again. Rent it and watch it with fresh eyes. You won’t be disappointed!