Trust. A dead body in bracken. A cop cheats on his unhappy wife who, in secret, sees a psychiatrist whose own marriage is corroded by grief: she thinks her husband is having an affair with a gay patient of hers. The cop's lover, Jane, is recently separated, and her neighbors - a couple with children - include a muscular unemployed man. Late one night, the doctor skids off a back road, finds a call box, and tries in vain to reach her husband. She sees headlights and flags down the driver. Later that night, Jane sees her neighbor park his truck and throw something into the lantana in a vacant lot. It's a woman's shoe. Unraveling the mystery lays bare five couples.Written by
Anthony LaPaglia had to work with a dialect coach to regain his native Australian accent. He had lost it from years of working on American movies. See more »
When Sonja and Leon are in bed, the crew is reflected in a large standing mirror. See more »
[the morning after Leon admitted having an affair]
I fucked up, all right? People fuck up.
Really? Well, I don't. You know what's so easy, Leon? It's so easy to go out and find somebody. You know what's hard? What's hard is not to.
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Grateful acknowledgement of assistance to all our families See more »
Most successful Australian films are quintessentially Australian. From Walkabout in 1970 via Peter Weir's pictures such as Picnic at Hanging Rock; The Last Wave and Gallipoli, right up to releases around Lantana such as The Tracker; Dirty Deeds; Rabbit-Proof Fence; Aussie Rules; The Dish and the Steve Irwin vehicle, The Crocodile Hunter Collision Course. Their appeal is partly based on an exploration of Australian culture or rather a contrast of cultures either within Australia or with the rest of the world. Like much of British Cinema, Australian Cinema has taken refuge in nationhood.
Lantana is different. Although it is set in present day Sydney it could, with the exception of the film's metaphorical title, be set in any Western urban conurbation. The film does not depend on either supposed Aussie character traits or well-known locations. Postcard Sydney is eschewed in favour of suburbia and mid-town. It is also bold as, although it contains a crime detection story, the film is primarily about an interwoven set of relationships gone wrong. The police investigation does not begin until halfway through the film, and this allows the relationships to be explored in detail before the more conventional narrative begins.
Leon (Anthony LaPaglia) is a morose police detective whose marriage to Sonja (the excellent Kerry Armstrong) is failing. His brief affair with Jane (Rachael Blake) in the opening sequence, is a symptom not a cause. Sonja confides her worries of the affair to Dr. Somers (Barbara Hershey), whose own relationship is soured by suspicion and tragedy. The only solid relationship is that of Jane's neighbours, whose domestic circumstances are the most difficult. This background unfolds in the first half of the film and the individual relationships are then laid over the plot allowing both an intertwining and explanation. The strength of the film is that as the characters have already been well realised, so their actions and emotions can be understood in the second half of the film. This is territory often reserved to a good novel, and is rarely brought off in the cinema and it is so well done here that a couple of narrative co-incidences can be forgiven.
The lantana is a large native Australian flowering plant, whose attractive and benign appearance conceals a thorny interior. The shrub is cleverly threaded into the plot and serves as a reminder that in relationships, things might not be all they seem and that care is needed to prevent hurt. In keeping with the film's realistic style there are no feel-good resolutions but the emotional intensity carries it to an ending of some hope rather than desolation.
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