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Despite a meagre budget, this Australian character-driven mood piece is shaped into an effective entertainment by its producer/director/writer Murray Fahey. His creativity is apparent from the film's opening credits and scenes that lead into a tale that balances naturalism with the grotesque. Well-crafted surreal and witty touches are in place during early sequences, but an overage of predictability is prominent during the film's later stages. By her performance in the leading role, Kate Raison obviously did not stint with preparation, nor did the other featured players of this well-cast work. Fahey's emphasis upon camera stylistics increases a viewer's interest in this film, and one can not reasonably plead for a more competent use of flashbacks. A descriptive score by Frank Strangio is heard and is mixed well, augmenting an intriguing opening and maintaining its force even as the plot falters. Editing is ably handled by Brian Kavanagh, helping increase an element of suspense for this psychological drama, guaranteeing that viewers will remain interested in the storyline. Raison plays as Madaline Carr, a well-to-do young woman of 29 years who, along with her professional investor husband Martin (Martin Sachs), live comfortably until she begins having a series of dreams connected to a childhood tragedy, dreams that disturb the pleasant order of the couple's existence. Nerves taut from the nightmares and lack of sleep, Madaline assumes as point of view that she was responsible for the death of her younger brother Thomas, over 20 years prior, with this theory becoming the core of her dreams. Martin ineffectively attempts to help his wife through amateur use of psychiatric methods, but with only negative results, as Madaline's condition appears upon the surface to worsen apace. The pair journeys to the rural district where she used to live, the source of the incidents in Madaline's dreams, where she grimly tries to locate the crash site near to her former home where a road collision took the lives of Thomas and of her parents. An atmosphere of incipient danger pervades the film at this time as Madaline's nighttime dreams begin to blend with waking hallucinations, and it will seem plain to a viewer that her expedition to the source of past psychologic trauma may again produce tragedy. Even with Martin's moral support, his wife becomes increasingly confused as she begins to believe that the long-deceased Thomas has somehow returned and is determined to kill her. When the couple's auto becomes enmired in a woodsy area, Martin leaves to seek assistance, but after his failure to return by nightfall, Madaline sets out in search of him, soon coming upon a secluded farmhouse, at which juncture the film's mood of suspense is vitiated by predictable and melodramatic scripting. Living in the house is a trapper named Harris (Martin Vaughn) who grudgingly agrees to help Madaline, but in his bathroom she finds evidence that her husband has recently been there, although Harris denies this. By this time, Madaline has serious concerns for her own safety because of the demeanour of the vaguely ominous Harris, of whom she has an unpleasant memory, or is that also a dream? Raison earns the acting laurels here for she does not merely comply with script requirements, but contributes as well a rich sauce of emotional range; the film's two children utilized in flashbacks are quite natural, while Vaughn and Vince Gill as grizzled trappers are impressive, even though their scenes are somewhat laboriously predictable. Shooting occurs largely within scenic rural locations in forested sections of New South Wales, wonderfully filmed and correctly targeted to be synchronous with the plot. Director Fahey's clever alienation effects and other items from his cinematic box of tricks do not meet the challenge of his flawed screenplay while drastic cutting of the film's final sequences only serve to punctuate these scripting shortcomings. In sum, this is an ably produced psychodrama, featuring a top-flight performance from its female lead, and a director who certainly knows how to utilize his camera, but all of this value is lessened by a plot that is overly dependent upon coincidence. Additionally, there is a horrid amount of cutting that nearly eliminates all traces of an irony that is at the crux of the climactic scene.
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