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Antoine de Caunes
In the dead geographic center of American, a college student from California (Katherine Kendall - SWINGERS) must take refuge from a sudden storm in the Miller's farmhouse basement. The Millers-Irma (Blythe Danner - MEET THE PARENTS), her husband Dallas and their brooding 30 year-old son Billy, have secrets as turbulent as the storm that rages outside. They are trying to come to terms with the mysterious disappearance of their only daughter and Irma's delusions about the tragedy are further complicated by the arrival of the suspicious California coed
If it were writ upon a page, it could revolve around this day, the day my mother came to believe that being of a certain class entitles you die whenever you damn well please. Don't we wish...
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THE EYE OF THE STORM has so much going for it that it seems a shame that it likely will not draw audiences in the theaters now that it has been released in this country. Thanks to Amazon's Video on Demand it can be watched in the home without the usual distractions of the theater audience more interested in texting and eating than in being willing to follow a strong story for two hours. It is another jewel of a film from Australia and perhaps in art houses it will be appreciated.
The story is adapted by Judy Morris from the Nobel Prize winning novel by Patrick White (1912 -1990), an Australian author who is widely regarded as one of the most important English-language novelists of the 20th century. White's fiction employs humor, florid prose, shifting narrative vantage points and a stream of consciousness technique. In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the only Australian to have been awarded the prize. 'The Eye of the Storm' is the ninth published novel by Patrick White and it is regarded as one of his best novels.
The elderly Elizabeth Hunter (Charlotte Rampling), widow of a wealthy grazier, is nearing the end of her days in some splendor in her mansion in Sydney, Australia, and her two children have been summoned to her bedside. Her son Basil (Geoffrey Rush), once a leading actor on the London stage whose career is now in decline and her daughter Dorothy (Judy Davis), the ex-wife of a minor French aristocrat whose fractured marriage has ended with her only asset being the retention of her title of Princess, are motivated more by their possible inheritance than affection for the old lady. In fact Elizabeth inspires more affection in her nurses (Alexandra Schepisi, Maria Theodorakis), her solicitor (John Gaden) and her tragic cabaret- entertaining housekeeper (Helen Morse) than she does in her children. Dorothy in particular has cause to hate her mother for secrets not immediately revealed ('Dorothy was breathless with resentment for what she herself could no more than half-remember, had perhaps only half discovered - on the banks of the ocean'), yet it is she who gets closer to her mother as the film progresses. Elizabeth is a shrewishly controlling woman and her descent into dementia only reminds everyone involved with her of the damaged childhood, marriage and life she has led. The manner in which the story come sot an end is somewhat surprising and in many ways rewards the viewer for the attention it takes.
The film is laid out in flashback scenes to manage the histories of all involved and the interior monologues that slowly build the full images of each f the characters and their inherent flaws. The acting is excellent, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the story is fascinating. If it doesn't exactly match the density of the novel by White then the ones who seem to be responsible of that are the director Fred Schepisi and the screenwriter Judy Morris. It is a tough story and if the viewer can maintain the level of concentration the film demands, then this is a most satisfying experience.
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