Plot and character disappoint in 'Australia' epic

The usually reliable Luhrmann has brought us a film that resembles, in so many ways, his native land, the Australia of the title: big, good to look at, and empty.

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown

Cert: 12

The usually reliable Luhrmann has brought us a film that resembles, in so many ways, his native land, the Australia of the title: big, good to look at, and empty.

The film has been, laughingly, referred to as a modern-day 'Gone With The Wind', a film on an old-fashioned epic scale.

'GWTW' it most certainly isn’t, chiefly because the characters are ones we can never truly relate to and the structure of the piece comes in two sections whose cracking join can be seen.

Kidman plays a rather vapid Lady Sarah Ashley who travels Down Under to join her husband on a cattle ranch near the Northern Territories city of Darwin, only to find on her arrival that he has been murdered.

She is left to fend off the business advances of Brown and save her ranch by driving the cattle to Darwin. Jackman, all bronzed and lantern-jawed, offers to help her out of her dilemma … and, of course, eventually out of her shirt and jeans.

This section of the film is a throw-back to the Westerns of yesteryear, all dusty trails and hazards at every turn.

The circa being the Japanese attack on Darwin the film then swings into an unconvincing second act, by which time we have lost what small interest we might have harboured for the characters.

The Outback looks spectacular – everybody start saving now for that trip to Oz – and the cows were excellent.

Otherwise …

Star Rating: 3/5

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