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Beautiful Kate
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Reviews & Ratings for
Beautiful Kate More at IMDbPro »

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Index 26 reviews in total 

42 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Excruciatingly good

Author: ennor from Adelaide, Australia
20 August 2009

I saw this film over a week ago, and it still stays with me, almost haunts me. Tex Perkins' soundtrack was perfect, and like the images, will hang around you for days, perhaps weeks.

The subject matter is not pretty, and may be confronting to many, but in my experience it is not terribly unusual or unexpected, given the remoteness of the family farm. Accolades must go to the cast - Ben Mendelsohn, Bryan Brown, Rachel Griffiths (deliberately dowdy in this)and the amazing Sophie Lowe as Kate. The Flinders Ranges in South Australia also has a major role, and performs well - beautiful, remote, dangerous and overwhelming, a bit like the underlying secret which gets addressed during the course of the film.

This is the story of a family secret, hidden (but not forgotten) for 20 years, and the final revelations are stark and shocking. The cinematography and editing are truly inspiring, and I was thrilled to see such a fine piece of film-making. Top credit however must go to Rachel Ward - Director, writer (adapted from the novel)- as this is her movie, and she deserves every one of the awards that this movie is sure to receive. As a piece of art - which it is - this film will move you, even if it makes your skin crawl, or you find yourself wriggling in your seat. For the experience alone, this film is worth seeing.

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39 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

The best movie of 2009 (so far); unmissable

Author: pdelamore from Scotland, United Kingdom
9 August 2009

Let me start by saying that Beautiful Kate is an acquired taste. I believe that it's a movie that'll either shock you or enthrall you. This will depend on how attached you can become to a film. If you are not one of those people, then you'll still find an interesting, yet disturbing, flick.

If you are one of those 'attached' people, like me, then you will find an unexpected masterpiece.

Technically, there is a lot of impressive stuff here. The direction, editing, production and cinematography are most impressive. The editing is the notable mention for the way in which the film blends together different timelines in such a seamless manner. So while the director performs brilliantly, I think it's the editing team who should step forward and take the final bow for creating something so cohesive. But South Australia must also take a bow for providing some spectacular backdrops which you will get to see as the movie progresses.

I think Kate will go down as a critics' favourite and I hope to see it win big at awards. Australia is the place to be for art-house films these days. Beautiful Kate is the pinnacle of modern Australian movies. In recent years we've seen the quality of Australian storytelling from 'Ten Canoes' all the way through to the likes of 'Kenny'.

If you liked this, then I thoroughly recommend you also see 'Last Ride' with Hugo Weaving.

To summarise, Beautiful Kate's dark subject matter is superbly crafted with technical and artistic skill that will lead you on a roller-coaster of emotion. Unforgettable. 10/10

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

a bleak but ultimately haunting and well made drama

Author: gregking4 from Australia
28 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Beautiful Kate is another local film to delve into a bleak and dysfunctional world, but at least this one has some impressive credentials on both sides of the camera that will potentially help it pull in a larger audience. Beautiful Kate has been adapted by Rachel Ward from Newton (Cutter's Way) Thornburg's novel, which was in the tradition of the sort of Gothic southern fiction that gave us tales like Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, etc. Ward has successfully transplanted Thornburg's essentially American novel to the isolated Australian bush, while retaining its powerful themes. Beautiful Kate is also like transplanting a Tennessee Williams to rural Australia. It has all the usual ingredients – the dying patriarch, the dysfunctional family, the prodigal son returning home, incest, rancid secrets revealed, ancient wounds picked over until they are raw and bleeding. And then there is a final catharsis that allows for closure and the family to move on. At the request of his sister Sally (Rachel Griffiths), author Ned Kendall (Ben Mendelsohn) returns to his drought-ravaged family farm after a twenty year absence to visit his dying father. He hasn't seen his estranged father since he left home following the tragic death of his twin sister in a car crash and the subsequent suicide of his brother. He brings with him his latest girlfriend Toni (Maeve Dermody), a city bred girl who quickly tires of the boring routine of life on the farm. And when she learns of some of the Kendall family's dark secrets she flees in disgust. Ned's return brings a lot of simmering resentments, guilt and unresolved issues to the surface. Ward honed her skills on a number of short films, including the powerful AFI award winning The Big House, and she handles her debut feature superbly. The film is nicely layered and textured, and Ward reveals the tawdry secrets and painful back story in a series of extended flashbacks. She draws excellent performances from her small but solid cast. Mendelsohn finds his meatiest role for quite sometime and he rises to the occasion with a rich, complex and quite raw performance as the son consumed by guilt. Bryan Brown is good as belligerent patriarch, a once proud man struck down and left embittered and crippled by tragedy and debilitating congenital heart disease. The scenes these two share are quite powerful and provide plenty of fire works. Dermody makes the most of her role, while Griffiths is effective in her few scenes as the long-suffering and stoic Sally. Newcomer Sophie Lowe (also in Anna Kokkinos' upcoming family drama Blessed) is very good as the sexy and beguiling adolescent Kate. Cinematographer Andrew Commis has shot the film in widescreen, and he captures some quite evocative images of the beautiful Flinders Ranges locations. The run down farm, a far cry from the bustling place of their childhood, is hauntingly symbolic of the father's failings and of the slow destruction of the family.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

To me this isn't fiction

Author: cubaweadoreyou from United States
30 August 2011

This movie is like nothing I've ever seen-except in real life. I haven't ever written about this, or told anyone, but this almost exact thing happened in my family. I didn't even know what this movie was about, but as I watched it my jaw hit the floor. All the memories and emotions came rushing back. I never thought anyone would write such a book, let alone make a movie. I will leave out some of the more hair raising details. Just about every law that could be broken was. Luckily there was no small child to witness the depravity: that was my job.

There were three of us that lived on an isolated horse farm. I was a 16 years old, my brother was 18, and my sister was 14. My sister was just like Kate-beautiful, but evil and manipulative. I enamored with her. People think that girls can't do these sordid things, but like Kate, my sister was the instigator. Some of the scenes were exactly what happened. My 18 year old brother was dumber than a bag of hammers, but was physically much like Ned. He even looked a little like him except he was much bigger at about 6'4''. My siblings were two very beautiful people physically. Mentally was a whole other story.

I was a nerd that liked to read books, and was pudgy and wore thick glasses. I loved to read history. To wrap this up, I was the one who witnessed a lot of what went on. The skinny dipping etc. My siblings carried on as though I wasn't even there, and I never took part in any of their activities. I did have some contact with my sister, but it stopped short of anything major. My mother even walked in on them a few times, but the only action she took was encourage a neighbor boy to come over in hopes of keeping the unthinkable from happening. When my sister inevitably got pregnant, she married the neighbor boy. There's even more to this, but I'll leave it at that. Besides, I am sure there was a lot I thankfully never knew about.

My brother was almost completely dysfunctional as an adult. He died a few years ago. When he would begin to talk about these things, I would always quickly change the subject. Maybe I shouldn't have. Maybe it would have helped both of us, but I didn't want to take that chance that things could actually get worse. Years earlier my sister tried to talk to me about it, and I actually started to hash things out, but I had to stop. I took awhile to recover, so I wasn't going there again. It seemed like she didn't mind talking about it at all, and revealed some things I had either not seen or had forgotten. Once again, I'll leave it there.

Nothing I ever did completely erased what happened, and as you might guess my life has been a terrible struggle with depression and feelings of rejection, but in some small way I feel somewhere someone understands. I still can't believe that someone wrote a book so similar to what happened to me.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A fabulous Australian film!

Author: Tim Johnson from Fremantle, Australia
12 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Beautiful Kate is a beautiful movie albeit a difficult, challenging movie but one that will remain with you long after leaving the theatre. Diane and I saw this film yesterday at SX Luna and as we waited to enter a lady exited and said she did not like anything in the film and we thought she had seen another film. Now I realise what she meant although I would vehemently disagree with her. Beautiful Kate takes place in a 30s house on a small farm with South Australia's Flinders Ranges as a backdrop: it is kind of dilapidated, very dry and probably hugely depressing to people coming from more salubrious surrounds. Bryan Brown who plays a pivotal role has been made-up perfectly to fit his part as the father of his family that must live out the mental re-enactment of long past deeds. I mention Brown because his appearance (a wonderful tribute to the makeup artist's skill) is, to me at least a metaphor for the lives of the children gathered at their families' farm. This film is raw; the title may have given the woman who so disliked it the wrong idea of its substance because the movie is exactly opposite of beautiful. Personally I thought Rachel Ward, director and writer, examined the emotions of the players brilliantly. I cannot speak highly enough about this film. We have developed a movie genre that is unique to Australia and conveys ranges of nuanced emotion that can only be dreamed about in other countries. Hollywood came close with The Last Picture Show but that was almost 50 years ago and they seem not to want to return to the genre. Make every attempt to see this movie but be aware when you walk in that the vehicle is not fancy.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A more thoroughly powerful story could have been delivered.

Author: Likes_Ninjas90 from Australia
24 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ned (Ben Mendelsohn) is a middle aged writer, driving with his much younger girlfriend Toni (Maeve Dermody), to his father's outback ranch. His father (Bryan Brown) is dying. Ned has not seen his father for twenty years, the last time was the summer when his sister Kate (Sophie Lowe) and also his brother Cliff both died. Ned is haunted by the memories of his sister and it is gradually revealed that they shared an incestuous relationship. Also staying on the ranch is Ned's other sister (Rachel Griffiths) who is at odds with the immaturity and rudeness of Toni.

Based on the novel by Newton Thornburg, Beautiful Kate is another competently made Australian film, written and directed by Rachel Ward. Shot on location in South Australia, the film is beautifully photographed and takes its time to reveal its secrets. This is quite a nostalgic film but ultimately a passive experience. The film uses many integrated flashbacks to show how Ned and his sister came together. Unfortunately, despite being the most poignant and interesting aspect of the film, much of this is relationship remains highly fragmented and never fully explored. Had the film been shown from the perspective of the children, rather than from adulthood, it may have been a more fascinated film. The isolation in such an area, along with little intimacy from their parents – their mother died and their father was tough – suggests their affection for each other but it deserved to be explored in more depth. Given that are our view of Ned and Kate as a brother and sister is highly fragmented and scarce their incestuous behaviour is perhaps never as shocking as it should be. It would be interesting to see if it was more thoroughly described in the novel. As it stands not a lot happens in the present stages of the film. A stationary area like the ranch in the film does not offer a lot of opportunities for action.

The films performances are collectively excellent. Bryan Brown captures the vulnerability of the old man strongly. His character is an extremely rough and hardened man, often crudely spoken. When Toni asks him what Ned's weakness is he replies with the word 'cunt'. Yet despite his coarseness there is little doubt over the grief for both of his children. Mendelsohn is fine as well, but we have to question why his character Ned chose such an immature partner in Toni. Perhaps this is an echo of his youth with Kate, but with such guilt about his behaviour with her, it is difficult to understand this complexion between his sexual longing and his remorse. The weakest character is easily Dermody's Toni. Toni has been characterised intentionally as an extremely rude, immature, brat. Her comments throughout the film are regularly irritable. When she is told that Kate is no longer with the family, she asks "she's dead?" It is little loss to the film when she eventually leaves. Alone her character offers little, by in relation to Ned it allows him to develop by the end of the film from a man who yearns for his sister, in memory and sexually through Toni, to someone who we assume will understand his limits. Ned ominously places Toni's name tag next to the speed limit of his car as he drives away at the end of the film.

Beautiful Kate is a mature Australian film, but one that could have been more insightful and sophisticated in its handling of its youngest relationship. The performances are terrific but like many adaptations one must question how much of the novel was omitted for the screen. Had more time been dedicated to the childhood of the characters, the emotion of the film could have been further elevated, and a more thoroughly powerful story could have been delivered.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Always on their minds

Author: kevin-rennie from Australia
14 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director/screenwriter, Rachel Ward has created a very moving experience in Beautiful Kate. It's a story of a dysfunctional bush family, set in the dry but magnificent country around South Australia's Flinders Ranges. Ward's husband Bryan Brown doubles as producer and actor.

The death of his wife left Bruce Kendall to bring up their young children, two boys and two girls. His macho, tough approach to parenting brought nothing but disaster. A explosive mixture of adolescent sexual awakening and outback isolation was compounded by his choice of home schooling through School of the Air. The young twins Ned (Scott O'Donnell)and Kate (Sophie Lowe) were especially close.

When Bruce is dying, forty-year-old Ned (Ben Mendelsohn) returns to their property with his feisty girlfriend Toni (Maeve Dermody). Writer Ned starts to record his memories as a way of burying his ghosts or closet skeletons. When his sister leaves him as carer for several days, all the old wounds are reopened. The film is a journey towards the ubiquitous closure cliché. Bruce and Ned would find much more colourful synonyms for an ending, happy or otherwise.

This is a remarkably talented cast. Brown gives one of his most convincing performances and Mendelsohn impresses throughout. Rachel Griffiths as youngest sibling Sally is rock solid. Lowe does a fine job steering clear of the potential overkill inherent in her very difficult role. Dermody's scenes with Brown leave us with the certainty that there is much more depth to her character than we meet on the surface. Scott O'Donnell is a capable actor though he lacks the cheekiness and charisma of either the young or mature Mendelsohn.

The father/son confrontations are classics. Wall-flies would no doubt have enjoyed the rehearsals and off-screen banter. Rachel brings out the best and worst in both of them.

Kate is a well paced and structured narrative using unfolding flashbacks very effectively. Despite its themes, it is not a dark or brooding film of the kind that has been criticised lately. At one stage the older Ned cries out, "I'm still here!" in despair. As he drives back to the big smoke, these words herald a new opening.

Her feature film debut as director is a triumph for Rachel Ward.

Cinema Takes

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely stunning

Author: arasheps from Iran
6 July 2010

I look at movies first from the cinematography point of view, And that was what got me in the start, but as the movie went forward, as I saw acting, as I saw story telling I found out that I'm looking at a masterpiece. Somebody recommended Last Ride, I really like Last Ride but this movie is really in a different league. I didn't know who this movie director is(I do this willingly to don't have any predict) and after I finished it I looked at the director's name: Rachel Ward, yeah Rachel Ward's masterpiece. Bryan Brown's acting is the best, i didn't know Sophie Lowe but she is probably an actor(Isn't actress creepy?) to remember her name for the future. Also time dimensions is something touchable in this movie. I highly recommend it if you consider yourself an open mind person, because you should enjoy the kind of passion thats going to get injected to you.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A challenging and masterful Australian gem.

Author: Replicant_76 from Melbourne, Australia
25 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this film started out as an "Australiana-ploitation" however, once through the awkward opening 10 minutes, opened up into a fascinating yet challenging film. The production values are amazing, especially the cinematography, editing and score (Tex Perkins Et el).

Ben Mendelson and Brian Brown are excellent as the bitter and twisted Son/Father. The film reveals itself through a series of memory flashbacks juxtaposed against the present day and works really well.

The film will challenge you and may repulse viewers to the point of disengaging from the film. Doing this would really be a disservice, as untimely it subtly deals with the secrets and lies around dysfunctional family units with themes of denial, guilt and absolution.

Like any great film, you'll be thinking about this one long after the credits role. Recommended, especially for lovers of raw Australian cinema.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the best Aussie films ever!

Author: spinoza42 from Australia
6 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Set in the Australian outback, I found Beautiful Kate to be a moving experience and one of the best films about family relationships. The film is based on a book by Newton Thornburg. Unfortunately the book is out of print but hopefully the film's success will lead to it being reprinted. Kudos to Rachel Ward for bringing this to the screen and for transforming a book set in the USA seamlessly into an Australian setting. Ben Mendelsohn is superb in this challenging role. Frankly I cannot understand those who have criticised the characters and the plot as clichéd. This movie goes places others fear to tread. My spoiler alert is that the movie does contain material which some people will find disturbing or offensive. One person walked out during my session and I know that others have too. If you want to know exactly what I am referring to look up the name Alexandra Maryanski or Robin Fox on Amazon.

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