User ReviewsReview this title
It shows us how under the thin veneer of hypocrisy, religiousness, and enmity against all physical lies what God gave us to enjoy: a body to experience happiness, laughter, desire, sensuality, lust, and sexuality. And no institutions (like the Christian church in this film) have the right nor - in the long run - the capability to prevent people from finding out this fundamental truth.
Watching this movie without an open mind towards sex or a joyful sense of humor surely will be annoying. So fundamentalist Christians and other prudes shouldn't bother. The rest of the audience (hopefully the majority) can expect a solid performance of the entire ensemble and many moments that make you smile and sometimes downright happy.
Although shocked at first, Anthony and Estella find themselves being seduced by the beauty and sensuality around them and they are both changed forever by the visit.
This is a sexy movie that isn't about the sex. It is filled with sweeping vistas, and has a wonderful score. It's a great movie to sit with your significant other and watch!
P.S.: I recommend "The Advocate" for those who like "Sirens".
P.P.S.: I agree for the most part with Eamon Buchanan's comments, but, the models were "painted"in the nude, not "painting", and it was the Anglican church that was upset, not the Catholic (the Campions could not have been married if they were Catholic).
While it was an admittedly erotic film, I found it extremely 'body/nude positive' in the sense that it showcased the true beauty of the human form and seemed to celebrate it.
Also, the creative way that the director "morphs" scenes into and from noted works of art. Brilliant!
The Soundtrack -- by Oscar winning composer RACHEL PORTMAN -- melded the at times ethereal emotions of many scenes and drew the viewer in. Again, irresistable...
A few scenes that stand out:
*Dream sequence of Tara Fitzgerald's character when she descends into the water at night in a gauzey Egyptian cotton nightgown and the three models emerge from the water and caress her.
*The scene when the "Statue" comes to life and walks off into the illuminated night mist...
This is a film NOT to be missed. One will not regret viewing it.
No, it isn't very deep (as some here have intimated) but it could make you think deep thoughts if you follow the various threads that unfold.
Venus Crucified (the blasphemous painting in question) is a pointed reference to the killing of the sacred feminine by the Christian Church (although I do not think that was intended by it's Messiah).
The symbolism isn't terribly subtle either, there are snakes in the garden, for sure; but there are a number of references to the savagery of life in mid-twentieth century Australia - people eaten off by sharks and (other) snakes attacking children in a newspaper headline near the end. There was repeated references to the Titanic, too, including, so it seemed, that the minister and his wife may have sailed on it to Australia! (The sirens calling the ship to it's demise? The whole thing a dream of a passenger on that ship?? Who knows, eh?)
The symbolism was a bit off in one scene that depicted the minister and bishop going through the museum without looking at any of the wonderful paintings along the gallery on the way to the offensive work; but the church is not above owning a huge collection of art, some of it quite controversial. That bit of 'ignorant indifference' didn't play too well on this viewer; but I suppose it was a jab at the tight-assed attitude of the clergy in general.
The girls are charming in the old fashioned sense - just as the original sirens charmed sailors to their doom, they charmed the minister's wife to her 'moral doom'.
Dream sequences were, like real dreams, sometimes hard to know if they were 'real' or not - just as Gidy is conned into thinking what she really saw was just her dream; and that dream was 'telling her' to do what she wanted to do in the first place.
Near the end when Devlin catches the hammer, it all fell into perspective, not only for me but for Estella as well.
I don't think this film was ever intended to be a deep, heavy look into any morality; it was a bit of a romp through the human condition leaving one with a little fatalistic approach to morality - life has many ugly sides (sharks, snakes, etc.) but leave room for a little fun too. The minister (Anthony/Hugh Grant) also allows that some things are best not told. There is a difference between not telling something and telling a lie, though; and that was left right out.
Frankly the morality being sold in this flick is just a bit too frivolous for real life, at least in most settings. People do get hurt, lives are affected, and there are often consequences for those so-called harmless trysts. John Lennon would have us Imagine this and that but in the end he lived the good life off of the proceeds of his capitalistic ventures. That is how life is; this movie is how dreams are. All-in-all, it was nice dream. That's what movies should be; so in being that, it was a very good movie.
The story is based on a real artist, Norman Lindsay(Sam Neill)and there was a real Anglican priest (played by Hugh Grant) sent to convince him to withdraw his "Crucified Venus" from exhibition. The film is set on Campion's estate and features his work throughout.
It is a little wild, silly at times, and features explicit nudity and sexual situations. Perfect introduction to Hugh Grant's abilities.