In mid-1800's England, Oscar is a young Anglican priest, a misfit and an outcast, but with the soul of an angel. As a boy, even though from a strict Pentecostal family, he felt God told him... See full summary »
I'm of the school that the real meat of movies is in their structure, in how they insert themselves into our lives. And that has little to do with what people normally associated with movies: the actors. Very few actors are interesting in any way, and often they actually fight what the filmmaker intends, if she is interesting.
I have only a few actors I can respect. One of them is Cate Blanchett. This is her first project and is worth watching just because of that.
She just seems to understand how narrative is folded, so can support the intent of what the deeper texture of the film is. This has nothing to do with character and emotion and all that normal stuff, and it seems to be unique to the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art, where she studied.
The sum of that introduction is that if you, dear reader, are entering a life in film as a sensitive watcher, you need to study how successful entries were done. If one of your admired actors is Cate, this is where you will end up.
The project itself is pure drek, designed to sell beer or whatever else Australians buy. It plays with their national shame about race and predictably goes way too far. Movies cannot help themselves now: all indigenous people are noble deep down. So the setting here is something of a cross between "Song of the South," with an embarrassing Uncle Remus character, and "Whale Runner," which assumes native superstitions are somehow different than European ones in nobility more real.
The plot is unremarkable, grinding away with all the normal TeeVee fare, parceled out with one disclosure per episode. It has absolutely nothing to recommend it but Cate.
Ah, but what a Cate! This was before she got into the Hollywood habit of body toning. And before she learned to carry her body expressively. But she already is transcendent in how she presses expressions through her face into our souls. This is a woman dedicated to reaching us and you can see it even here.
Its so odd, that strange face projecting such angelic appeal.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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